Town Boards Back Wright Farm Purchase

Annual Town Meeting will be asked to authorize the purchase for $2.95 million 13-plus acres of the Wright Farm property for conservation.

A bid to purchase a large portion of the Wright Farm property will go before annual Town Meeting with support from the Board of Selectmen, Conservation Commission and, as of April 20, the Community Preservation Committee.

The CPC voted last Friday to recommend to Town Meeting the purchase of about 13.5 acres of the Wright Farm property for conservation purposes. The committee recommends paying $500,000 up front and bonding the remainder of the $2.95 million sale price, plus additional expenses associated the transaction. 

Under the recommendation, the Wright Farm would be purchased for open space purposes using Community Preservation Act funds, with a conservation restriction to be put on the land. A small parcel with a house, barn and another structure is being retained by the seller and will remain owned and occupied by one of the current owners. The town would have right of first refusal on that lot.

The CPC vote was 6 to 2, with one abstention. Earlier this month, the Board of Selectmen voted 4 to 0, with one abstention, in favor of this proposal. 

The selectmen and Conservation Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. tomorrow, April 24, to educate the public and Town Meeting members about the proposal, which appears in nearly identical warrant articles 9 and 10. The latter article is a Plan B, which would have been moved if the CPC plans did not include conservation.

Located at 241 Grove St., Wright Farm is nestled in a corner of town bordering Bedford and Burlington. Talk of the town acquiring the property is nothing new, according to officials.

Speaking at Friday’s CPC meeting, the Conservation Commission’s Phillip Hamilton explained this open space at the edge of town is valuable due to its proximity to other open land at the edge of town. Wright Farm neighbors the Burlington Landlocked Forest, the Paint Mine Conservation Area in Lexington and Bedford’s Old Reservoir.

As for the piece of the property that would be withheld from the sale, affordable housing has been floated as a possible future use when and if the Wright family decides to sell.  

For the two CPC members who voted against recommending that Town Meeting authorize the Wright Farm purchase, the biggest issue appeared not to be the merits of the proposal, but the timing of the vote. 

Town Meeting’s nearly a month old already and will take up the Wright Farm land acquisition on or after April 30, an evening already pegged as the date certain for the Dana Home article. As well, the seller’s decision to withhold a piece of the property from the sale effectively negated prior appraisals, leading to sentiments among the CPC that they were being asked to vote without enough time to properly vet a nearly $3 million land acquisition. 

“This is not the way to do business,” said CPC Chairwoman Wendy Manz, who voted in favor of the recommendation.


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