East Street Decision

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I am angry and extremely disappointed with the actions of both the Town Manager and the Board of Selectmen regarding the property at 107 East Street. Please note that this anger is not directed at either the Vaughan or the Hayes families, who have both been subject to false accusations and animosity. Rather, I feel the board did not act with integrity or with the best interests of the town in this matter.

The town issued an RFP that resulted in one sale proposal (Mr. Vaughan of Westmeadow Farm) and two lease proposals (House of Hayes and Mr. Woodger of Rockwood Farms). Westmeadow Farm’s proposal met the requirements of the RFP, while the two lease proposals did not. The lease proposals should have been disallowed and the only issue should have been whether to sell the land. After a public hearing, the residents should have had a chance to vote.

Instead, by advancing the Hayes proposal, the board chose to make the discussion adversarial and prolong the process to the point the Vaughans felt they no longer had any option but to reject the process. I believe the board chose this course of action to prevent the sale of the land.

While neither of the lease proposals should have been considered, the decision to put forward the Hayes proposal over Woodger’s proposal was a calculated move to pit a multi-generational Granby farmer over a relative newcomer. How else am I to see it when Woodger’s proposal would have netted the town more money, especially when the Town Manager and Board are fully aware that Hayes and Woodger currently work together on that same land? If Woodger’s proposal had been put forward and accepted, Hayes would still receive his 20 percent of the harvest and the town would have received more money.

The prospect of a new (and organic) dairy coming to town was an intriguing one. I was excited at the idea that Granby would be at the forefront of regenerative agriculture and attract regional, if not national attention. People would have come to learn about what they could do to provide clean, local food for their own communities. It would have meant more jobs and more revenue for both the businesses in town and the town itself. Granby could have become a model for other towns to follow.

Instead, we have this mess. The board members need to reflect on what they have done. They had an opportunity to model an appropriate response by educating themselves on the facts, conveying these facts to the citizens, and leading a reasoned discussion. Then, whatever the result of the vote, the citizens would have felt like they had been heard. Unfortunately, the board’s approach pitted neighbor against neighbor and has left many feeling angry and betrayed. The Town Manager and the BOS are certainly no models for other towns to follow.