Council hopes to sell town-owned land for housing

By Gregory A. Scibelli - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Thu., Jul. 7, 2011
The property at 55 and 69 Mechanic St. is to be sold to a developer pending a town meeting vote. Photo by Gregory A. Scibelli.
The property at 55 and 69 Mechanic St. is to be sold to a developer pending a town meeting vote. Photo by Gregory A. Scibelli.

During its recent meeting, the Windsor Town Council approved the next step in an attempt to sell 6.5 acres of town land, with the hope it will be developed into community housing with a large array of benefits to taxpayers and town business owners.

Town Manager Peter Souza said the council approved the sale price of $900,000 for two properties, known as 55 and 69 Mechanic St., at its July 5 meeting.

The two properties are expected to be sold to Upton and Partners, a development group in Boston, Mass. Souza said the town has been negotiating with the group in an effort to prepare the property for sale.

He reminded residents that town officials are not in the business of developing land, but simply worked to prepare it for sale to be developed by another company.

“We are looking to see this property get developed for a variety of reasons,” said Souza. “First, it will add at least $220,000 to the property tax base in town. It will also help bring more people into town and will aid local businesses.”

The Mechanic Street properties are located near the town center and near the commuter rail line. Souza said the town hopes it will make an attractive place for residents to live, with close access to the commuter line and the close proximity to the center and its various shops, several of which could be within walking distance.

“This has the potential to benefit a lot of people,” said Souza, “and that’s what we are looking for, to get the most we can out of this land.”

The two properties are currently unused and were previously industrial sites. The town has owned the land for many years and has been working with Upton and Partners to prepare the land for sale and to get it to a point where the development company can install housing units on the property.

“They helped us get through issues like clean-up of the property and taking care of any environmental issues the area might have,” Souza said. “Once we were able to get through that part of the process, it was ready for a formal transfer over to the development company.”

The $900,000 price tag is right in line with “fair market value,” Souza said, meaning the town is getting a fair price for selling the land.

The sale of the land must be approved by Windsor taxpayers, so a special town meeting will be held on Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. to hold a vote. The Town Council unanimously approved establishing the special session to give voters the opportunity to weigh in on it.

Souza said the Town Council is in full support of the development of the land and has made a positive recommendation to the voters.

Provided approval is made for the land sale, Upton and Partners can begin applying for the various permits and subdivision of the land. It is estimated the land could hold up to 130 housing units, which could bring a large contingent of people and their families to the community and school system.

Permitting and planning board approval can take several months, and Souza estimates it will take through the winter to gain those approvals. Barring other setbacks, construction on the land could begin sometime next year and would continue into 2013, with a late 2013 potential occupancy date for new units.

“It might seem like a long time for this to happen,” said Souza, “but it is really right around the corner, and we’ll be seeing these houses go up.”

In other council action on July 5, the Town Council approved the grant application for $185,000 in state funding for capital improvement projects. Historically, the money has been used to pave roads.

“This is a grant we receive every year, and $185,000 is our share from the state,” Souza said.

Once again, roads will be the focus of the funds, with six different roads scheduled currently to be repaved as part of the street improvement program executed by the Department of Public Works.

On the slate for fiscal year 2012 are Kellogg Road, West Ridge Road, Sunnyfield Drive, Robin Road, Sunnyside Circle and a portion of Matianuck Avenue.

The town is currently during roadwork on Day Hill Road, as part of its major improvement program.

Due to the summer schedule, the Town Council will not meet again until Aug. 1.

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