To the Residents of the Town of Wilmington,
As an attorney representing the owners of property located at 333 Andover St. in Wilmington, known as Sciarappa farm, I am compelled to write this letter to respond to and correct numerous false and incorrect assertions which have been publicly made by a current member of the Board of Selectmen, Michael McCoy.
Selectman McCoy has stated that the property is 76 acres in size. In fact, it is approximately 68 acres, of which 62.5 acres are situated in Wilmington.
Selectman McCoy has stated that there will be 760 condominiums built on this property if the article before the upcoming Town Meeting is approved. We don’t know where Selectman McCoy got his information, but he has his facts wrong.
The actual vision is that there will be approximately 210 one or two bedroom residences, and approximately 40 residences designated as “affordable housing.” The potential buyer has seen how younger people who grew up in Wilmington cannot afford to buy a home in their own town. Elders who may want to downsize and yet to stay in their town are likewise forced out of this market.
The vision is to address this reality of not being able to afford to live where on grew up or has resided for much of their life. Smaller residences also will reduce the expected number of children entering the school system.
In a recent Board of Selectman meeting, Selectman McCoy stated the town hasn’t had the opportunity to buy the property, “… after giving them (the owners) tax breaks for years and years and years.”
This property has been in the Sciarappa family for nearly 100 years, being operated as a farm for most of that time. Massachusetts General Laws Ch. 61A allows for municipalities to reduce property taxes on qualified farm land, with certain restrictions placed upon the land if it is to be sold while under 61A designation. During the time that the property was designated as 61A, the owners paid the full amount assessed by the town each and every year.
In 2014, the property was removed from 61A designation, and a higher tax was assessed. The owners have paid the full amount of real estate taxes assessed by the town each and every year. Proof of assessment and taxes is a matter of public record which Selectman McCoy could easily have discovered. For Selectman McCoy to insinuate that the owners have received some benefit to which they were not entitled by law is uninformed, unfair, and just plain wrong.
As far as Selectman McCoy’s incorrect remark that the town hasn’t had the opportunity to buy the property, nothing could be further from the truth. Over the course of the past 10 to 12 years, there have been several offers to purchase the property made by individuals and companies. On at least two occasions while the property was under 61A status, the town was notified of offers that the owners were considering.
This was done so that the town could have an opportunity to exercise its right of first refusal to match an offer, reserved to it under the statue. None of the offers was ever consummated, but the town has been on notice of the owners’ desire to sell. It has been no secret for more than a decade that the owners would like to sell their property.
I believe that Mr. McCoy has been on the Board of Selectman for that entire time. Neither Selectman McCoy nore anyone else on behalf of the town has presented an offer to the owners to purchase this property. It is blatantly false to state that the town hasn’t had the opportunity to buy it, and Selectman McCoy knew or should have known this.
There is one more extremely important point that must be made. This is privately owned property, and the owners have the right to sell it to whomever they please. Everyone, including the town, has had, and continues to have, the right to make an offer to purchase the property. Had that been done of the course of the past decade, full consideration would have been given to any reasonable, good-faith offer, as the owners have done with every offer made to them.
Before comments are made, especially in a public forum such as Board of Selectmen meetings and letters to the editor, the authors should take the time to get the facts right, and speak the truth.
William F. Crowley