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Selectmen delay decision on Gov. Stoughton property

Posted by Sarah Favot  June 16, 2011 10:00 AM

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The selectmen had planned to make a decision on which proposal they would award a bid for the Governor Stoughton property, but they decided to delay their decision until June 27 amid public calls to take more time and allow for the public to read the proposals.

The selectmen are trustees of the Governor Stoughton Trust, as stipulated by Colonial-era Massachusetts Governor William Stoughton’s will when he bequeathed land to the town in 1701 for benefit of the poor. The selectmen put out a Request for Proposals in March and received five bids.

Discussions of each of the proposals have remained behind closed doors in executive session, until last night.

Although the selectmen had not planned to have public comment during last night’s meeting, several attendees began questioning the selectmen about the proposals.

“We’ve gone through this process and we come to this meeting tonight without having revealed any of the proposals or the price proposals to the public,” said Selectman John Shields. “I think that’s probably driving some of the frustration that we see here tonight.”

Dawn Karol, who lives on Whittier Road, said that she wanted the selectmen to postpone their vote as a courtesy to abutters of the property who were not notified of the meeting.

The selectmen voted in favor of this request. The five proposals were made publicly available on the town’s website last night.

“I think what happened here tonight is good, everything is now public. You can tell what the selectmen have been negotiating on in private, and I don’t believe there is going to be any further detrimental effect on the negotiating position of the trustees,” said Board of Selectmen chairman Robert Sweeney.

At last night’s meeting, there was disagreement among the selectmen about which proposal they preferred.

Sweeney said that he supported the proposal from Copeland Family Foundation Inc. The foundation offered to pay $1.75 million over a five-year period to the trust for the land. The proposal also stipulated that the Milton food pantry could be moved into a renovated building on the property and the animal shelter would remain on the property.

Sweeney said the Copeland Foundation would maintain the open space on the property.

Selectman Tom Hurley and Shields said they preferred the proposal from Pulte Homes of New England LLC. because the price was significantly higher than what the Copeland Foundation offered to purchase the land.

Pulte Homes offered to purchase the property for $5 million to build a cluster development of 23 single-family homes and leave four acres of the property for the town, which would include the animal shelter and other structures.

Hurley said that when he examined both proposals, the Copeland Foundation’s proposal was ahead until the price was considered.

“You have to put some weight on price, and for me the price is too far apart,” said Hurley.

“We can do more to help the poor with $5 million, than with $1.75 million,” said Shields.

Shields said that the selectmen hired a private appraiser, who appraised the property to be worth slightly less than $5 million.

“While my heart is not with Pulte, but my head and my responsibility toward the Governor Stoughton will says I have to be with Pulte,” said Shields.

The selectmen will meet on June 27 at 8 p.m. at the Council on Aging, where there will be public comment and a vote.

Sarah Favot can be reached at

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