Suffield residents have three items to consider and vote upon during the upcoming Thursday night Town Meeting at 7 p.m. at Suffield High School.
PA 490 Open Space Classification
The Town, per state statute, must approve the PA 490 program for it to be used for “open space designation” to create a property tax classification for “open space land”. Similar to the farmland and forestland programs, the open space land must remain as open space for 10 years. If the use changes, a tax penalty applies.
Suffield’s open space designation reads as follows;
“Any site or area of undeveloped land indicated as open space on an approved subdivision map. For individual property owners seeking PA 490 classification, open space shall be any site or area of undeveloped land equal to 15 acres or more. Undeveloped land means land without buildings, roads, driveways, or other permanent structures or active mineral extraction activities. When determining the acreage of a parcel of open space, the assessor will not include the minimal spatial requirements, or lot size required by the zone.”
According to the Town Planner, Bill Hawkins, from an open space planning perspective, adopting the PA 490 Open Space classification will provide landowners with an option to temporarily preserve their land. This may come into play if a property owner is contemplating subdividing and selling lots or selling their property to a developer because of taxes.
"The open space classification will likely not have much of an effect as it’s unlikely that everyone who could take advantage of the program will do so. Even if they did, the loss in (tax) revenue is about $78,000, a relatively small sum," said the First Selectman Ed McAnany.
The sale of Bridge Street School and land to Lexington Partners LLC for $975,000
The town will vote by paper ballot to approve the sale of the 3.4 acre Bridge Street School property to investors who would renovate the school, add a small amount of retail as well as build a three-story apartment complex on the vacant land.
Proponents of the sale say the town cannot afford to fix the school and should sell it for it to be saved and developed. Additionally, that the profit, tax revenue and foot traffic will benefit the town and businesses.
Those against the sale argue the town should keep prime real estate and save the school. Additionally that the project is too big, apartments are not a good fit and open space is more important.
According to the First Selectman, Ed McAnany: "If the vote is no, the Board of Selectmen will have to consider what to do next. From my perspective, and I think the Board’s as well, we can’t simply let the building rot away. But on the other hand the Town has no use for the building."
Application to the Office of Policy and Management for the Main Street Investment grant in the amount of $500,000
If approved, Economic Development Coordinator Patrick McMahon would just beat the deadline of Sept. 28 to apply to the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management for monies to redesign Fflyer Place Drive, the first part of redeveloping the old lumber yard area in the center of town.
The project would entail construction of approximately 30-foot wide road to town road standards and appropriate right-of-way. Construction would include granite curbing, drainage structures, sidewalks, decorative lighting and benches, on-street parking and landscaping.