* Learned that the annual Grotonfest celebration will be Saturday, Sept. 11. The event will include time to remember the 2001 terrorist attacks.
* Voted to sign a grant application from the Division of Conservation Services for the purchase of what has been known as the Wharton Plantation on Old Dunstable Road. According to Conservation Commission member Bruce Easom, cost of the property would come to $375,000, with 65 percent of the price to be reimbursed to the town by the grant money. Easom said that the property was almost 95 percent wetlands, but that since it was adjacent to conservation land owned by the New England Forestry Foundation, it was wise to buy it to reinforce protection of the area. Easom said the property holds a single house which would be demolished should the property be purchased. The upfront money for the deal would be taken from the town’s Conservation Fund. Degen said that he could not support the request, due to the property being mostly wetlands, but members voted in favor of it.
* Voted to approve grass seeding of a vacant lot adjacent to improvements being made on the AL Prime Energy gas station, at 619 Boston Road, Route 119.
* Voted to approve the removal of up to 5,500 cubic yards of fill from the Squannacook Hills housing development at 160 Townsend Road. Developed by Groton West, LLC, the project involves the construction of 18 townhouses.
“The site is in great shape,” said Planning Administrator Michelle Collette.
“This is one real important site to stabilize sooner rather than later,” Collette said.
Selectmen voted in favor of granting the earth-removal permit on condition that the developer institute proper dust control and hours of operation, file a truck route through town and place a bond against potential damage to the town’s roadways.
* Considered increasing the hours worked by housing coordinator Kerry Fisher to 19 hours per week, at the request of Haddad.
* Voted to appoint outgoing Rep. Robert Hargraves, R-First Middlesex, and former chairman Steven Webber to the Finance Committee. The two will finish out the terms of two departing members. A third candidate, Gary Green, who ran for a position on the Finance Committee in the last election but lost, was not appointed on grounds of experience. Hargraves warned that the upcoming year would be a difficult one for town fiscal planners should a ballot initiative to cut the state sales tax by 3 percent be approved by voters. Haddad told selectmen that a third vacancy on the Finance Committee could arise in about another month, when Green could again have a chance of being appointed.
* Voted to authorize the town manager to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Groton Electric Light, allowing selectmen to work with the company on planning for its new headquarters and aspects for the redevelopment of Station Avenue.
* Were informed by Haddad of the resignation of Bentley Herget, the town’s building inspector and his replacement by interim inspector Donald Kinney. Aiding Kinney will be Michelle Collette who has agreed to serve as interim zoning-enforcement officer pending the hire of a permanent replacement for Herget. Selectmen voted to approve the interim appointments as well as advertising for the open position as being a 40-hour position. Hours for the part-time position were recently bumped up due to increased activity in the local real-estate market.
* Voted to appoint Haddad and administrative assistant Patrice Garvin to the Sign Committee pending approval by the group’s sole remaining member, Chairman Jason Kauppi.
* Discussed an issue raised by Degen about exploring the possibilities to save the town money by sharing its services with neighboring communities. Degen suggested that the bulk purchasing of road salt for snow-removal purposes would be a good place to start. Other opportunities to save might be found in the Department of Public Works and the police and fire departments, he said.
— Pierre Comtois