Developer with Beacon Hill Connections Seeks State Land
by John Andrews
There’s nothing new about politically-wired developers asking their friends in the Legislature to help them get their hands on public land. But the news article below is especially pertinent given the attempt by the Legislature to weaken the safeguards that prevent public land from being transferred into private hands.
Rep. Dan Bosley, mentioned below as taking money from developer Peter Bassett, recently appeared with Rep. Thomas Stanley at a forum in Waltham to defend the Jones-Stanley bill (H4491). This bill would speed the process of turning public lands over to development. Rep. David Flynn, mentioned as pushing the transfer to Bassett, is the House co-chair of the committee that rushed Jones-Stanley through the committee process the day after the text was revealed.
Thursday, March 2, 2006
Developer seeks wildlife land in no-bid deal
By Dave WedgeNEWS ARTICLE from Boston Herald
A key piece of state-owned wildlife land in Bridgewater could be sold to a politically wired developer for a strip mall in a move by lawmakers that would circumvent conservation and bidding laws.
Under the proposed deal, the Legislature would force Mass Highway to sell Weston developer Peter J. Bassett a tract of environmentally protected land at the junction of Routes 104 and 24, even though such sales are barred by law.
Bassett, a member of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, and his wife are campaign donors, giving thousands to state lawmakers, including maximum $500 contributions to Senate President Robert E. Travaglini (D-E. Boston), auditor Joseph DeNucci, Rep. Daniel Bosley (D-N. Adams) and Sen. Andrea Nuciforo Jr. (D-Pittsfield), records show.
The state-owned land is protected as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern because it’s part of the Hockomock Swamp, the state’s largest vegetated freshwater wetlands.
Under state law, if an agency decides it no longer needs ACEC land, it must offer it to other state agencies or put it up for public bid. More than 5,000 wetland acres abutting the land are owned by the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation is slated to hold a hearing today on whether to sell the land to Bassett. Committee members state Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Bridgewater) and state Rep. David Flynn (D-Bridgewater) jointly filed the bill at the urging of town officials.
Mass Highway officials are not expected to challenge the proposed deal, providing the land is sold at market value and the state retains an option to build a ramp.
Joe O’Keefe, spokesman for the state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, which runs the ACEC program, said officials were unaware of any development on the property. Any building on the land, however, would be subject to a “stringent” environmental review, O’Keefe said.
Bassett did not return a message at his office last night.
[Editors Note: Our check of campaign filings reveals not just $500, but $5000 worth of contributions from Bassett and his wife to Rep. Bosley in the past 3 election cycles.]