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Candidates sought for Development Task Force

Date: 10/11/2011

Oct. 10, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW — The town of Longmeadow is seeking candidates to serve on what will be a newly formed Land Development Task Force.

The creation of such a task force was sparked by the decision to make land development in town a priority by the Select Board in September.

“The Select Board identified expansion of development in parts of town that can be developed as a priority as we went through the strategic planning process in order to help increase our tax base,” Mark Gold, chair of the Select Board, said.

The group, Gold explained, would consist of town residents familiar with real estate and development. Those who live in town who have experience in other related areas are welcome to apply for a position on the task force as well.

“Since we are looking at parcels of land for development that would directly affect the town, it is only appropriate to put together a group of people from the town with expertise in this area,” he said.

Gold noted that while Longmeadow is fairly landlocked, there are pieces of town-owned land that could be considered as favorable spots for development. Gold pointed to Turner Park as one example of land that could yield development.

“Most of the land we’d consider is under town control. It’s not parks, it’s not conservation land,” he said. “The area known as Turner Park is not actually a park, so it could be considered.”

The task force’s primary focus would be not only on where development could occur, but whether it should occur at all, he added.

“If the recommendation from the task force says we don’t develop, that’s fine, too,” he said. “We don’t want to push development on the town, but we do want to push for a review of the idea.”

Gold said the task force would also make recommendations on the manner in which the town develops parcels of land if development is decided upon.

“One of the big questions is does the town develop the land? Does the town sell the land to developers? Or do we make a request for development plans?” Gold said. “Personally, I don’t think the town should be in the development business, but that is part of what this task force will figure out.”

One of the hurdles in developing could be re-zoning, he added. Also, if the town were to sell land to a developer, a town-wide vote would be required.

Gold said that he hoped the process would be completed in time for the task force to be able to make a recommendation for vote at the Annual Town Meeting in the spring, but added that no formal deadline has been set.

“Doing all this in eight months is a tall order,” he said. “If we can do it and do a good job with it by then, great. If not, at least the process has been started.”

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