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Dec 09

Special Town Meeting

Posted on December 9, 2020 at 10:03 AM by Ashley Place

12/7/2020 
Michael Herbert

I know there were questions and speculation about the proposed eminent domain taking of Fafard's property scheduled for this Wednesday's Town Meeting. The gift agreement is posted here for everyone to see that 1) yes, there is a signed document, and 2) it's clear that it is a gift. This wasn't based on a handshake or someone's word. It was a contractual agreement between Fafard Real Estate (58 Exchange Ashland) and the Select Board.
Moving forward with expenditures on a piece of property based on a contractual agreement that grants you ownership of the property after certain contingencies are met is not uncommon. This happens in residential situations when people are buying and/or selling their homes and is codified in documents like a purchase and sales agreement. For example, some people have a purchase and sale agreement and then go through the process of paying for an inspection, liquidating assets to pay for the property, perhaps even incurring expenses in the process of selling their existing home. They don't own the property, but they are acting in good faith because they have a contractual agreement with the seller that says once they meet certain contingencies, the seller will deliver a deed to them with a clear title. 99% of the time, everything is fine. But on the rare occasion, the seller doesn't honor their end.
For clarification, the warrant article gives the Board the authority to take the following: "...including 3.82 acres as shown as Lot B on said Planand a portion of the 8.55 acres as shown as Lot C, in an amount as determinedby the Board of Selectmen in the best interest of the Town;". This does not mean that the Select Board will take all of that property when they actually execute the taking. There may be pieces of the surrounding land that would be beneficial to the town.
There is no plan to "take" money from the school department to pay for this as some have said. The warrant article requests an appropriation of $500,000 from the Capital Stabilization Fund. Money was put into this fund a couple of years ago in anticipation of the building project. We do have an appraisal but can't divulge right now what that appraisal says because of potential litigation. But what we are asking for more than covers what the taking would be based on our appraisal. Once the Board executes the property taking for a certain dollar amount, the parcel is ours, but Fafard can certainly litigate over the price. That's why having a solid appraisal is important (and lacking in the last two large takings the Town was involved in).
I understand that, even if people agree with this action, it is a bitter pill to swallow. We were hoping that Fafard would transfer the property according to the agreement, but he hasn't. So at this point, we are proposing using other tools at our disposal.
I hope this provides a little more clarity to the situation. If you have any questions or concerns you can write to me at mherbert@ashlandmass.com

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