Residents voiced their opinions on the RFPs for the former Evonsion property at the March 5 and 19 Selectmen’s meetings
Susan Regan – disappointed that the RFP did not include anything but agriculture; would like to see an extensive marketing plan, believing that the property could sell for much more than the $1.25 million, that money then being used to pay off long-term debt.
Bob Miller – surprised to see that sale of the property is even being considered as former First Selectman John Adams stated that the purchase of the property to be sure it remained open space.
Barry Avery – believes a third dairy farm would not hurt the two existing, as 40 years ago, there were eight to 10 such farms; tax liability with a farm is negligible compared to that with a development. Avery spoke again on the 19th, in favor of the land being sold to a farmer who would farm it in a safe manner and not harm the surrounding areas — organic farming being desirable over chemical, which leaves the soil sterile.
Herb Hulbert – favors the Westmeadow proposal as a unique opportunity to have an organic farm; the town will benefit financially from the sale.
Mike Meany – wants to understand how the sale of the property meets with philosophy of the Plan of Development.
Tom Grimaldi – questioned if there has been any progress on the state’s interest in purchasing the property, feeling the taxpayers would get the most back on the purchase price; that money could be used to repair and re-open the two closed town bridges.
Anna Sogliuzzo – supports the sale of the property, believes the organic farm will attract a clientele that will then spend money on other Granby businesses. wants to know impact on mill rate of each of the three proposals.
Sarah Sabbagh – also questioned effect on mill rate; wants financial analysis of each RFP; hopes that the town’s farmers can all cooperate.
Tom Vaughan – spoke to Selectman Ohannessian’s point about the existing lease on the property, noting that when he first proposed to use that land for his dairy, he did not know about the lease, learning of it from Agriculture Commission chair Michelle Niedermeyer, after which he contacted Stanley Hayes. He noted, “I am not in the lease-breaking business.” Also, he contacted the state Commissioner of Agriculture regarding its interest in purchasing the development rights to the property. The reply given Vaughan was “very interested.” Vaughan remarked that the state could pay more than he could for the property.
Stanley Hayes – cited his ancestors farming in town since 1680 — conventional farmers who follow the rules, caring for the land and the animals; not against organic farming but cautioned that the milk market is glutted and a farmer can sell very little of his product. Also noted that the property, as now farmed by Rockwood, supplies crops for other farmers in town; if sold, that would no longer be the case.
Ben Perron – was on committee studying open space that decided in 2011 that the best scenario for town was to purchase the land for strategic investment – perhaps a new school or recreation facility; expressed surprise that selling it for development is now one of the possibilities, as in the most recent town study, residents overwhelmingly chose that the property should remain agricultural.
Eric Myers – the referendum in which the sale of the property was included had so many items it was difficult to understand what one was voting for.
Braenaan Vaughan – on the 19th, took issue with a proposal in a statement written by Eric Lukingbeal for the P and Z Commission in which Lukingbeal called for a permanent commission to act as an advisory board to develop what would be the best uses for the 107 East Street property. Vaughan noted that there has already been a study commission and that the decision should be made soon due to the upcoming start of the growing season. He also noted that correct tax information and the appraisal of the property are now available and should help the board to make an informed decision regarding whether to sell or lease it.