Tasked with finding ways to monetize town assets that aren’t currently generating tax revenue, Foxborough’s Asset Review Committee has targeted five parcels to sell in auction.
Foxborough Board of Selectmen Clerk Lorraine Brue, who also serves on the Asset Review Committee, recently briefed the BOS on the following five parcels the town should consider selling to improve its revenue stream:
- The old fire station in the center of town: This property was appraised, without sewer, at $470,000 "a couple of years ago." Adding sewer to the property would increase its value for auction. Brue said the committee will reach out to the Historical Commission for input on what should replace the old firehouse. Many Foxborough Patch readers have said they would like to see a bakery or coffee house fill this space.
- Property on Garrett Spillane Road: Brought forward to the Asset Review Committee as a private request, according to Brue.
- Property on Pine Acres Road: Landlocked parcel requested for Asset Review Committee to take a look at, according to Brue.
- The former Keating Funeral Home property on Market Street: Brue said funding for a study of this property will be needed before selling. “We want to look at that since it was a funeral home to make sure there’s no problems with hazardous waste before we put that up for auction,” Brue said.
- The old Camp Lincoln Hill property on Oak Street: Click here to read more on the Oak Street property.
“We knew these assets could potentially generate additional tax revenues,” Brue said. “So in addition to getting the funds from the sale of the assets, the ongoing tax revenues going forward from the development of these properties could improve our revenue stream.”
Brue says an appraisal of these five parcels from a “couple of years ago” estimates a total value of $1.68 million – without sewer. The properties would be sold by an auctioneer recommended by the Asset Review Committee and ultimately selected by the Board of Selectmen.
“It was determined that all properties can be sold by auction, Brue said. “Fire station, Garrett Spillane Road, Market Street and Pine Acres Road. Really, the question is are the lots on Oak Street for sale.”
The issue with the Oak Street property, according to Brue, is two-fold.
A threatened species – white marbled salamander – was found in a vernal pool on the property during a site assessment, which has sparked debate at town hall on whether the property can be sold.
Foxborough Town Manager Kevin Paicos says Town Counsel Richard Gelerman is researching whether the property can be legally sold while the town’s Conservation Commission says there are laws in place that would prevent the sale of the property.
Conservation Commissioner Judy Johnson told the BOS the commission opposes the sale of the Oak Street property because it was purchased by the town with “the purpose of open space and recreation.”
“We feel as though Article 97, which protects open space, should apply to this property,” Johnson said. “As such, you would have to go through the process, which involves a majority vote from the Commission, 2/3 vote at Town Meeting to sell land, special act of legislation to be able to access the property and there’s a no net loss policy, meaning there would have to be other land to swap of equal value.”
Paicos disagreed, adding that he hopes to work out a compromise with ConCom that would allow the sale of the property.
As for the timing of the auction, Brue and Paicos told selectmen it would come after the completion of the Planning Board’s master plan.
“Planning Board is focusing its master plan on the downtown,” Paicos said. “That is its single highest priority. … “I think everybody feels that the right action is to wait until the master plan is done, which should be late spring/summer and see what [the Planning Board] recommends for the fire station and then be sure whatever sale we do is consistent with those goals. That plan represents what the community wants.”
Paicos says an auction is not likely to occur in the next three to four months, giving the town plenty of time to work with an auctioneer on the potential sale of these properties.
“Auctioneer prefers to have as many properties available at one auction,” Paicos said. “Not break it up into a bunch of auctions.”
Brue said the town and auctioneer would develop a marketing plan, notify abutters and ensure all legal matters are met so the town “has a good auction of these properties.”
Brue added the auction would include a buyer’s premium, which would result in no cost to the town.
“Premium covers all the town’s costs into this auction,” Brue said. “There is no cost impact to the town. That’s a percentage negotiated on top of the sale price of the asset.”
Special legislation and Town Meeting approval would ultimately be required for the sale of the Oak Street property as well as the former state hospital auditorium on Payson Road, which is currently zoned for recreational use by the state.
“Recreation property would likely be separate [auction],” Paicos said. “We need to see that done and see what people want done with those properties.”