Local officials from Abington, Weymouth, and Rockland will be holding a joint meeting on December 10th to carefully review and discuss the recently released proposed legislation from Starwood Land Ventures, the developer of SouthField.
Kevin Donovan, CEO of the South Shore Tri-Town Development Corporation, is very concerned after reviewing the legislation. “It gives the appearance that Starwood’s proposal will result in quite a goodly amount of money for the company itself to the detriment of the communities,” he said.
Donovan added that in the first year alone, Starwood will save more than $600,000 in property taxes and at least $1 million in the penalty for not building the golf course. “There are a number of those issues that are contained in their proposal that need further vetting,” he said.
Donovan said the legislation is something that the communities have been paying particular attention to, specifically to what it means for each town. “Weymouth,Rockland, and Abington,(to a lesser extent), will have to pick up patrolling the highways, providing police/fire service, plowing the roads, [and] taking over the water and sewer,” he said.
Donovan acknowledged that something needs to happen, but not to the “drastic” standpoint that Starwood has proposed. “I think this goes far beyond what anybody had in mind,” he said.
Donovan also denied that the Tri-Town Board ever admitted to being unable to fund sewer and water, a claim Matthew Barry, local Starwood vice president, had previously made. “We have been having ongoing discussions with the Abington/Rockland Joint Water Works, and we’ve been working with DEP to see if DEP will allow a safe yield for Abington and Rockland to provide water to the base,” he said. “That’s an issue that we’re continually working on. The board never said that we couldn’t afford water to the base.”
Starwood has said that they will provide the funding for the water and sewer. “That’s not what the legislation says,” Donovan pointed out. “What they say at a meeting and what is actually in the legislation, one could interpret that two different ways, and clearly in the legislation they are just going to finance it.” After Starwood finances water and sewer, those charges would then be passed on to the rate-payers. Donovan advised that people should listen very finitely to what Starwood is saying. “We have to be very careful of that,” he said.
The Tri-Town Board will be going over the legislation at their next meeting on December 16th. Donovan said they will also be making some sort of presentation at the joint meeting on the 10th on how they view the facts. “There’s a lot that has to be vetted out and it’s not as simple as some people would purport it to be,” he concluded.