By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — That’s a wrap.
The Select Board unanimously voted Monday to purchase the 20-acre Richardson Green property, 1425 Main St., for $2.7 million. The Select Board also voted to assign the property to the Essex County Greenbelt Association and approved a conservation restriction for the land.
Town Counsel Tom Mullen recalled that the Richardson Green parcel is classified as forestry land under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 61, which results in a reduction of property taxes as long as the land is not developed for residential use.
“The deal is that the taxpayer keeps the land in forestry and gets a tax break,” said Mullen. “If the taxpayer ever wished to sell the land for a different purpose, they have to give notice to the town and the town has a right of first refusal. It gives the town the option to purchase the land at the same price that the taxpayer proposes to sell it for.”
In addition to buying Richardson Green, Mullen said Chapter 61 gives the Select Board the right to assign it to a nonprofit organization such as Essex County Greenbelt.
Mullen said the funding plan for purchasing Richardson Green entails a $1,638,750 Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant that was awarded by the state as well as $200,000 from the Conservation Commission’s Conservation Fund. Essex County Greenbelt raised $300,000 for the land purchase. He said the remaining $571,250 appropriated for the land purchase came from funds from the American Rescue Plan Act that President Joe Biden signed into law earlier this year. The town has been awarded $3,885,490 from the ARPA.
Mullen also said the conservation restriction will “apply to the entire property.”
“The conservation restriction will prevent it from being developed in perpetuity,” said Mullen. “The conservation restriction will be held by the Conservation Commission.”
There were no residents who weighed in on the Richardson Green purchase during the continued public hearing. Subsequently, the Select Board approved the purchase and sale agreement, assigned the property to Essex County Greenbelt and approved the conservation restriction. The board also signed legal documents pertaining to the land purchase.
After the Select Board finished voting and signing the legal documents, a small group of residents gave the board a round of applause.
Richardson Green abuts land owned by the Conservation Commission and the Lynnfield Center Water District, and the property is located in the Ipswich River Watershed. A local advocacy group known as the Richardson Green Citizens’ Group had been urging the Select Board to exercise its right of first refusal because they were concerned that developing the property would negatively affect the LCWD’s water supply, the Ipswich River Watershed and would result in over 3,200 trees being clear-cut.
Planning Board Vice Chairwoman Kate Flaws, who is a member of the citizens’ group, told the Villager she is happy that the town purchased Richardson Green and the Select Board assigned the property to Essex County Greenbelt.
“It has been a really long road, and the town did a really good job of doing its due diligence,” said Flaws.
Essex County Greenbelt Association President Kate Bowditch recently announced that the nonprofit organization will “own the property and will be responsible for creating, managing and maintaining a modest trailhead parking area, trails and directional signage.”