SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

June 11, 2013

Town Meeting votes tonight on buying Pirie land

(Continued)

“I think Pirie is a classic case of the town being shockingly willing to use $4 million in taxpayer funds, using embarrassing class-warfare tactics and promising the moon to the people of Hamilton,” she said.

Jerry Fallon, of Goodhue Street, another opponent, said he worries that if the town attempts to develop the property as proposed, it would face costly litigation that could tie up the project for years.

UpperCross Development’s plan will bring about $200,000 in new tax revenue, Fallon said.

“Even in the best-case scenario, if the town brings in $300,000 more in additional revenue with its plan, that is only about 1 percent of the town’s $27 million budget,” he said. “That is hardly a solution for our high tax rates.”

He said he moved to the town for its rural character and fears the proposal would result in “destroying a small part of what makes Hamilton unique and different from many of the towns surrounding it.”

Supporters of the purchase, however, say this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the town.

“I think it would be a great long-term investment for the town,” Planning Board member Rick Mitchell said. “It addresses revenue generation, increasing housing options and open space preservation, which are all important opportunities that have been thoroughly discussed by the majority of townspeople.”

He characterized the purchase as “low-risk,” noting rising real estate values and a need for land for such projects in town. He said he disagrees with a “Save Hamilton” campaign in opposition to the town’s purchase.

“Save Hamilton from what and for whom?” he asked. “(UpperCross Development’s purchase of the land) is not saving Hamilton. What will save Hamilton is increased revenue and new housing options.”

The town’s Finance and Advisory Committee supports the proposal for the town to buy the land.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.

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