DANVERS — A proposal to build a small subdivision stirred a lengthy debate last night when selectmen learned developers want to build a road across a home-owner's lawn.
They need permission to use an existing town easement to build four homes at the back of the property on Patricia Road.
Selectmen learned of the proposal during a discussion of articles for Town Meeting.
The developers, Town Meeting member John Duffill of Centre Street and his sister, Ruth Morley, have filed a citizens' petition asking the town to assign to them an easement across 5 Patricia Road so they can reach 7.2 acres in the vicinity of Centre Street and land of the National Guard Armory.
Danvers attorney Nancy McCann said the 50-foot-wide easement was granted to the town and is drawn on subdivision plans for Patricia Road dating back to 1964. The easement "for highway purposes" was to make sure the remaining portion of the parcel could be developed when land was subdivided and homes on Patricia Road were built. The land used to be a farm.
McCann said there are two options: The town could build the road on its easement, or Town Meeting could grant the easement to allow developers to construct the road at their expense. The easement in question is only 60 feet long, but it is vital in that it connects Patricia Road with land in the back owned by Duffill.
Selectmen debated whether or not the owners of 5 Patricia Road, the Miller family, should be made aware the board was debating this warrant article request.
"I guess I'm not sure if there is a public benefit here," said Selectman Mike Powers, who questioned if assigning the easement to make way for the homes was the right thing to do.
McCann said it is appropriate for the town to allow for the development of single-family homes, for which the land is zoned.
McCann and Duffill both said the owners of 5 Patricia Road know of the easement. McCann said it is written on the deed and on plans dating back to 1964.
"It had a great big note for a highway easement 50 feet wide," McCann said.
"I assume the town has the right to transfer the right-of-way," Selectman Keith Lucy said. "What it all comes down to is should the town transfer its right." Selectmen Chairman Dan Bennett suggested the owners of 5 Patricia Road have the opportunity to come before the board.
Selectmen voted 3-2, with Bill Clark and Gardner Trask dissenting because they favored the article, to hold off discussion until the board meets April 17.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DanverSalemNews.