Williamsburg land undecided
By SEAN REAGAN Staff Writer
Daily Hampshire Gazette – Tuesday, February 15, 2005
WILLIAMSBURG – The fate of an undeveloped parcel of land on Depot Road, which was the subject of intense preservation efforts last year, remains uncertain after the original buyer defaulted on his contractual obligations.
According to a spokesperson at the state Department of Capital Assets Management, Robert Kelly of Brookline, who purchased the property for $286,000 at an auction in August last year, defaulted in late December.
The department is currently working with other bidders from the August auction to sell the property. It is not currently under contract with any buyer.
The property, which was declared surplus last year and was auctioned with several other properties, was acquired by the state Department of Mental Health more than 125 years ago. It is approximately 28 acres and includes 1,000 feet of road frontage.
Residents and town officials had scrambled to postpone the auction in an effort to find a buyer who would agree to conserve the property. Williamsburg zoning bylaws would allow up to five homes as a matter of right given the property’s 1,000 feet of frontage.
Development on a larger scale is possible but would require variances from existing bylaws.
The property is located between two larger parcels – one of which is landlocked – owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Kathy Sferra, who works in the Audubon’s land protection department, said Friday that the group remained committed to have the land conserved.
”We’re still trying to hang in there to see a conservation outcome,” she said. ”I remain hopeful that sooner or later we’ll get to a place where we’ll be able to conserve it.”
At last year’s auction, an undisclosed buyer had agreed to bid on the property to give both Massachusetts Audubon and the town an opportunity to raise funds to buy it themselves.
Neither Department of Capital Assets Management nor Sferra would discuss whether that buyer was a part of present negotiations.
”I just hope that whoever gets it will take the concerns of the community and the neighborhood to heart,” said Eric Cerreta, who chairs the Board of Selectmen. ”We did all that we could. There was a real community effort on behalf of that property. I hope that the buyer will keep that in mind.”
Sean Reagan can be reached at [email protected]