The issue of the 12 North Main Street complex will be one of the major items discussed at this Saturday’s Annual Town Meeting, and last week helped clarify one piece of confusion on that topic between two town boards.
Westford’s Tax Possession Sales Committee, also known as the TPSC, voted 4-1 to conditionally recommend a motion saying they would support Article #10. That article would transfer possession of the four parcels on the complex from the TPSC to the Selectmen for insurance reasons.
The TPSC’s conditional recommendation was contingent upon their own deliberations once the town forecloses upon the property for lack of property tax payment, which could occur in the near future.
Normally, the TPSC has full jurisdiction over properties repossessed by the town under town bylaws, and determines whether they should be auctioned off or put into service as parks, government buildings or other uses.
However, due to unexpected funding to clean up the long dilapidated 12 North Main Street complex, a task force has been created to determine how to clean up the area as well as gathering other information that could be used in figuring out the future of the area, which was once known as the Westford Anodyzing Plant.
At several recent Selectmen’s meetings, some members of the TPSC voiced their concerns that their role, and town bylaw, was being superseded by Article 10.
In response, members of the Board of Selectmen and Town Manager Jodi Ross indicated that passage of Article 10 would allow the town to appropriate funding for the insurance, which would otherwise have to wait until Special Town Meeting in October at the earliest, delaying rehabilitation of the site.
Both sides reiterated a desire to work together, as well as praise for the work done by the task force. That view was also shared by TPSC member Paul Cully, who was the sole vote against the motion.
During deliberation on the vote, Cully said that the article gives the Selectmen “carte blanche” on the issue, although he noted that he does not want the TPSC to hinder progress made by the task force.
The TPSC also voted 3-2 to request town counsel to ask the mortgage holder of the four parcels at 11 North Main to pay owed taxes on all the parcels. Currently it is expected that they will attempt to pay owed taxes on just three of them. Cully and Steve Sadowski voted in opposition.