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Water department funds could save Vinton Pond land from development

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TOWNSEND — The town may have the chance to save a 75.76 acre parcel on Vinton Pond from being developed, if voters at the May 2 town meeting agree.

Town administrator Gregory Barnes presented the full slate of articles to the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee on Tuesday, including one article seeking to transfer water department funds to help save a property from development. He told the joint boards he just became aware of this new development in recent days.

”The state has been in negotiations with the proposed developer, Robert Kiley, and the state has agreed to pay $1.8 million for the land,” Barnes said. The developer has agreed not to build ten proposed houses on the site if he receives $2 million.

”The Water Department has a very strong interest not to develop Vinton Pond,” Barnes said, “so they will ask at town meeting to transfer from water retained earnings up to $75,000 for the purpose of assisting the state in the purchase of the land.”

Barnes cautioned that the negotiations are still ongoing, but with town meeting just around the corner the matter needs to be addressed immediately.

”The Water Department would own the development rights to the land, as the developer has already received an ‘Approval Not Required’ permit to build his development,” Barnes noted.

Selectman Peter Collins asked abutters that live on Vinton Pond to kick in on the price, so that not all of the financial burden would fall on the Water Department.

”A couple of years ago, Camp Starfish was interested and bought the land for their camp,” Collins said. “The Vinton Pond Association members made noise and Camp Starfish was scared away. They located somewhere else, even though they would have been good for the area.”

”I would love to see this area not be developed, but we are once again in a damage-control situation, being asked to put in a good percent of the asking price out of the water earnings,” Collins added.

Barnes said there were other reasons why Camp Starfish pulled out of Townsend, but that the current proposal could be good for the town.

”Part of the money would be earned through fundraising and the abutters have shown an interest in doing this,” Barnes told the board. “It is still in a state of flux at the moment, but fundraising would be part of the deal.” He said there are sufficient funds in the water retained-earnings account to support the transfer.

Collins said it was a good idea but “the abutters made their bed, now they should be held responsible for helping out.”

Both the selectmen and FinCom agreed to support the article at town meeting.

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