In Plymouth, town officials have been told that they could perhaps correct their mistake and save about five acres of environmentally sensitive property on Little Herring Pond Road from being developed. At their meeting two weeks ago the Select Board voted to give up first refusal rights on the parcel offered for sale by the Keese family.
But perhaps they have more time than they thought.
The Keese property is called 61A by the state- –meaning a landowner receives tax benefits by keeping the land in agricultural use in exchange for giving the town first refusal rights—when the seller presents the town with a valid purchase and sale agreement. Then, the town has 120 days to declare whether or not it wants to buy the property. After that, they have an additional 90 days to close on the property.
Plymouth attorney Jerry Benezra, speaking as a resident, during public comment at the Selectmen’s meeting this week, told officials that based on the statute and a case he quoted to them, the time-line clock never started. So, what they have done is actually null and void. Mr. Benezra:
“I would say, consistent with their positions, their oath of office and their fiduciary duties and consistent with what the statute contemplates they do, I would anticipate that there would be another public hearing.”
But Town Manager Melissa Arrighi says, the seller and the buyer have already been given official notice that the town is not interested in exercising their first right:
“We sent that out certified mail last week, so although I understood Mr. Benezra to say you all need to revisit this issue—it wasn’t done properly, at this point –and I will check on this—but I feel, it is too late to go back because that official notice has already been given to both the purchaser of the property, Mr. Babini and the seller of the property, Mrs. Keese.”