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Garage Project, Roads Stripped From November Ballot

Town won’t move forward after owner of 5 Cherry Brook Road declines to renegotiate despite lower appraisals.

The Board of Selectmen voted to rescind a purchase and sale agreement for 5 Cherry Brook Road Wednesday night and take the highway garage and roads projects off the November ballot. Board members also floated the idea of eminent domain for a garage site.

The surprise move came after the town received two appraisals that were more than $200,000 lower than the agreement specified. The town had planned to ask voters to approve a $6.75 million garage project that included $665,000 for the purchase of the property, extensive site work and a new facility.

It had been one of the projects the town planned to ask voters to approve for bonding on the November ballot.

After discussing numerous options, selectmen agreed to rescind the agreement, and take the garage project off the ballot. Since it was bundled with $6 million of proposed road improvements, that will also not go to the voters in November, leaving just the roofs and track projects on the ballot.

The town had a purchase and sale agreement for 5 Cherry Brook with owner of KWK Canton LLC for $665,000.

The appraisals, however, came in at $450,000 and $415,000, Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner told selectmen Wednesday night.

The owner, however, felt it was worth more and would not renegotiate the price, Skinner said.

Selectmen then discussed numerous options, including rescinding the agreement — allowed by contract with the lower appraisals, paying the agreed amount in the interest of advancing the project or initiating an eminent domain process, initially paying an average of the two appraisals, allowing the owner to appeal the price and get another appraisal.

Permanent Municipal Building Committee chairman Peter Reynolds was at the meeting and offered several perspectives. One way to look at it was that $200,000 was perhaps a small price to pay for a move that should be permanent, he said.

The town has a responsibility to those that work there, to extend the life of its trucks, impove service efficiency, deal with environmental issues and recapture river access and field space, Reynolds said. 

“The economic savings of relocating a garage should not be overlooked,” he said. “I would at least urge the committee to think in broad terms.”

In the end, many selectmen just felt voters would not support paying more for the property than the appraisals.

Steve Roberto said he had already discussed in previous meetings that there was a “black cloud” over the garage project. With the new information, it would be nearly impossible to pass as is, he said. 

“I don’t think there’s any way we can find success with this,” Roberto said.

Selectmen also faced the challenge of ballots being printed Thursday, leaving little time for a decision. 

Selectmen also discussed eminent domain. Some selectmen felt that if that were a route to take that perhaps it should be on a different property.

First selectman Richard Barlow said the town should be careful not to deteriorate the town’s limited land for economic development.

Selectman Tom Sevigny said the town does need a highway garage and should look at another property.

"Just do it through eminent domain and get it over with,” he said.

Skinner said there’s still few options.

“Even with eminent domain, there’s not a lot of options out there,” Skinner said.

Still selectmen also alluded to another property that had been looked at but is not currently for sale. 

Skinner did say there would be time to get the projects out to a March or April 2013 voite and still be included in the town’s first bonding sale next August.

Roberto said the development was certainly a blow to the Permanent Municipal Building Committee, which since 2008 has worked on trying to relocate the garage.

“I want to thank your committee again,” he told Reynolds. “It’s a big blow to all the work you’ve done.”

“I would like to think of this as deferring the project,” Reynolds answered.

John Fitts (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Hey folks I did confirm today that it is indeed too late to add any questions to the ballot. That deadline was about a month ago. That’s the reason the whole question had to be dropped. I think you might see a referendum early next year with the roads and perhaps some other projects.
Peter September 28, 2012 at 02:00 AM
I say "What the hell" to two issues: one-which is more important, a very expensive track which will benefit only a very small segment of Canton's population; or getting our town's infrastructure up to par. The roads are terrible in town. Are we to wait until almost every road in Canton needs to be completely rebuilt? A track for a few or safer roads for everyone? The answer should be a no-brainer. Second: this town desperately needs a new highway garage. Stories in the media tell us time and again that a significant number of sites have been studied and ruled out for good reasons. The site on Cherry Brook was ultimately chosen because it is well suited for this particular use. Give the seller his damn 200k and get the much needed facility built. That 200k will be well spent, unlike tens of thousands more for a track. Put on the ballot the question that asks which the people would rather have-a track which will cost tons in maintenance costs, or a new town garage, which will put very expensive equipment under cover, instead of leaving them out in the elements and significantly shortening their useful lives. In these times, spending tax dollars on luxuries, let's put them to better use for necessities that will benefit the town and everyone who choses to live in this wonderful community.
Canton Taxpayer September 28, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Oh I am behind this 100%!!!! As you say, no-brainer. I will be voting NO on the track/field.....
Betty September 28, 2012 at 06:45 PM
PETER IS RIGHT! Does anyone remember the storm we had last October 31st? We need a town garage, equipment and a crew that will be able to respond in emergencies and a safe work environment for our town employees the rest of the time. We will continue to face weather related emergencies. Will we wise up and be prepared? We need to act now before our garage is shut down by OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) and we start spending some real money. We have spent many years, countless volunteer hours and a great deal of money pursuing every possible site in Canton, now we are going to throw that all away to nickel and dime the purchase price of the property. I don't get it. This is not like deciding where to put an expensive toy that will be history in 10 years, this is an important, major, long term infrastructure investment. The job needs to get done, and it should be the first step of taking care of what we already own and have neglected for so many years. The garage and roads serve us all. The track will serve a few. We should not consider spending money for the track until we have addressed our roads, garage, and roofs.
Andrew Ziemba September 28, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Silly concerned tax payers ha ha , did you actually think your tax dollars would be spent responsibly on common sense, critical town services and maintenance? Don't you know that the majority of your tax dollars go to an extremely inefficient black hole instead? Enjoy paying your taxes :) Just like federal income taxes... Always ask, "what services am I getting for the taxes that I pay and is it a good deal or a bad deal?" Act accordingly on the results of your pondering, don't be an apathetic slug!
Canton Taxpayer September 28, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Hence the VOTE....it may feel like a small voice but it can be mighty if people don't assume 'everyone else' will vote.....that goes for municipal elections/referendums and senate/presidential elections....worst case, if you vote, you have bitching rights down the road....
Canton Taxpayer September 28, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Good points -- instead of worrying about/forcing eminent domain, it'll be much easier to just pay the extra $.....and my vote on the track/field boondoggle is a resounding NO....
Andrew Ziemba September 28, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Towns are controlled by parents States are controlled by public workers Countries are controlled by the elite As it has always been said... "When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic" Three cheers to the track and field! Forward!
Betty September 28, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Canton is the largest employer in Canton, if you are wondering where your tax dollars go. Canton depends on residential taxes (which are tax negative) vs commercial taxes (which are tax positive). We need to become business friendly as neighboring towns have been doing. Increasing the mill rate 10 point to for a track and field is a big mistake.
Betty September 28, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Andrew, Do you own property?
Betty September 28, 2012 at 08:10 PM
ford, I believe the Cherry Brook property comes with sewers, water, and drainage, worth a big chunk of change. You bring up a really great point, town owned property. Canton should have an inventory of town owned property on the Town of Canton website. It has been Identified that we need 19 more fields, courts . . . We should be identifying where those may go down the road, and look at a full build out of our campuses before we plan on where to breaking ground, start voting on spending probably 4 million with a $75,000. annual maintenance bill. We don't have a real good record of maintaining what we already have. We do have a real good record of loosing small and big businesses. We need revenue, not raised mill rates, and certainly not a track with a hefty maintenance bill.
Andrew Ziemba September 28, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I was being sarcastic with my previous post about the track and field. Thankfully I was smart enough to not buy property at my current age of 25, but rather live as frugal as possible so that I could invest my money and start an E-commerce business. I would NEVER start a brick and mortar business in this state, and probably not even this country. HA! Renting is such a bargain... and we have a long way to go before the housing market corrects downward to its lows. I feel sorry for those who bought property in canton 20+ years ago, or those who are living here retired, or those who don't have children in the school system. Actually I do feel sorry for those who have children in the school system too, because they won't learn anything useful past 8th grade.
Andrew Ziemba September 28, 2012 at 08:36 PM
If it's one thing I can agree on with most, it is that a reasonable compromise for taxation is to use tax dollars to fund town maintenance and the roads. Now roads should be privatized, and property tax should not exist. But again, it is a reasonable compromise to tolerate tax until our country evolves into a freedom loving country and away from the tyranny invested filth that we are in now. Now one would think that seeing as how ALMOST all of us can agree that taxes should be used for roads, you would think this would be top priority for funding. I can't wait to see how the vote goes. Either way I think it will be just yet another example of why Democracy sucks.
Betty September 28, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Andrew, Renting has become a very popular trend among all ages. The state very much needs people in your age group, thank you for sticking around, and good luck with your E-commerce business.
MarianneBurbank September 29, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Emminent Domain is a horrible idea. Canton is a small town. We need to work together to solve problems, not against our own citizens. Taking someone's land from them is like raping and pillaging. It matters not if supposed "fair," value is paid because it is usually not market value and more importantly all the money in the world cannot make up for the loss if folks didn't want to sell to begin with and didn't want their land built on and disturbed. DON'T DO IT!!!
harold burbank September 29, 2012 at 02:25 PM
what happened to notions of building on the current site? do not buy arguments of insufficient space, flood plains, etc. make it work. save hundreds of thousands for roads (now in the worst shape in my 20 years here, reminding me of my home state of ME), rainy day funds, overhead, etc. keep taxes low, in the sam humphrey tradition. eminent domain a horrible idea. huge lawsuit costs, etc. spend low for the majority, not high for a pork barrel minority. the economy is not rebounding soon.
Betty September 29, 2012 at 06:43 PM
I believe FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) will not allow them to build next to the river. I agree roads are in the worst shape ever. If they are not fixed they will need to be replaced at 4 to 5 times the cost. I think it is unfortunate to take the two most critical projects off of the November's Presidential Election ballot, when the turn out will be the greatest. We need to take care of what we already have, and avoid further delays. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION 5 Cherry Brook Road, after extensive searches of every available property in Canton was chosen as the best property to build a desperately need town garage. It will not be a disturbance to, or will negatively affect the property values of area homes as the proposed multi-purpose field will. The natural bowl topography eliminates the need to build costly buffering to protect area homes, which are not as close by as the track. There is a 50' wide improved access right of way. Water, sewer, and drainage have already been addressed. The 5 Cherry Brook Road site comes with many advantages not found at other sites. Building in Canton comes with site costs. We will be trading the cost of one type of site work for another with other sites. JUST PAY THE MONEY AND GET ON WITH IT. WE NEED A TOWN GARAGE, NOT ACTING COULD BE MORE COSTLY. I DO NOT SUPPORT AN EMINENT DOMAIN SUIT.
harold burbank September 29, 2012 at 09:13 PM
can anyone cite a FEMA reg precluding a current site build? i cannot. indeed the last time the issue came opn the ballot such a build was permitted by specific state reg exemptions, despite what some town fathers said to the contrary. do not build on a new site until a clear case is made that improvements to the current site are illegal, as a former CT assistant attorney general for public works and transportation i doubt anyone can make that case. what has happened to so radically change the law between the last vote on this and today?
Jonathan Thiesse September 30, 2012 at 01:27 AM
I am pretty sure it is not FEMA "regulations" that are the problem. FEMA only requires regulations of encroachments (which is what a larger building footprint or filling in the floodplain would be) within the floodway. I believe that most or all of the current garage site is out of the floodway. (It is within the 100-year floodplain, however. Within the 100-year floodplain, FEMA requires regulations to address how construction is done to limit damage - and insurance claims - from flooding.) However, there is a state statute (Chapter 124, Section 8-2l) that requires municipalities to regulate the floodplain more strictly than FEMA. The municipal regulations required by this statute makes additional development within the 100-year floodplain nearly impossible in Connecticut. Where FEMA comes in is that they do not allow municipalities (if they want to stay in the flood insurance program) to exempt themselves from their own flood management regulations. (Imagine that.) So none of the Town's engineer on the project, the volunteers on the Permanent Municipal Building Committee who have been working [really hard] towards the best interests of the taxpayers of the town on this, nor the Town leaders have been trying to pull the wool over anybody's eyes on this.
Wyatt October 01, 2012 at 03:00 PM
@Betty. In this real estate market, I'd be thrilled. It's not like the owner of the parcel has had any luck selling it. Eminent domain gives him or her a guaranteed sale at FMV. The Town should do what is right for the Town, and not worry about some random attacks via the Internet or Youtube. Eminent domain is used countless times a year in this country without any complaints. Here, we would have the town paying FMV for land that the owner wants to sell. The only unique fact here is that the owner is trying to take the taxpayers for a ride... Again, unless there are some facts here that would make this newsworthy, I don't see how this would garner national attention when other uses of eminent domain don't.
Wyatt October 01, 2012 at 03:03 PM
What?!? "if folks didn't want to sell to begin with" - that is true, but not the case here. "didn't want their land built on and disturbed" - again, not the case here. Stick to the facts and less imagination...
Betty October 01, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Wyatt, Have you read the appraisal?
Wyatt October 02, 2012 at 07:18 PM
No, I have not. Why do you ask?
John Fitts (Editor) October 02, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Harold there is a recent study from engineer Jeff Alberti on the challenges of building on the current site. I don’t believe I have a copy but I am sure the town would be happy to provide it to you. I don’t mean this as an argument for or against anything but wanted to make sure you and others know it is available. If I can get an electronic version, I will try to post it as well.
Betty October 03, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Wyatt, I asked because of your statement: "The only unique fact here is that the owner is trying to take the taxpayers for a ride..." The comparables that were listed were: 55, 61, 65, 73. 85 Chidsey Road, Avon; Shallot Meadow Bahre Corner Road, Canton; 430 New Road, Avon; Ridgeview Drive, Farmington; Middle Road, Munson Road, Farmington; 99 Town Farm Road, Farmington; 320 Brickyard Road, Farmington. No RT 44 property. Location, location, location or site with a similar traffic count. I believe the owner is justified in waiting for his asking price, and in fact if I were treated like this I would raise the price.
Wyatt October 03, 2012 at 07:02 PM
If treated how? The town got 2 appraisals which were below the asking price. Asking for well over appraisal is certainly taking the buyer for a ride. The potential seller isn't being treated poorly at all - business is business. You can't cry when you don't get what you want, and you always need keep in mind the potential for eminent domain.
Betty October 09, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Wyatt the town could have gotten 102 appraisals, I do not believe any of the comparables found come close in traffic count to the 5 Cherry Brook Road property. This is commercial property not a home. The property owner has a right to ask his or her price.
Wyatt October 09, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Of course the owner has a right to ask whatever price the owner wants. However, the owner shouldn't complain when the asking price is rejected and the potential buyer pursues other options, such as eminent domain.
Betty October 09, 2012 at 05:27 PM
The property owner complained? What did he or she say? What did he or she write? I have read derogatory comments written about the property owner. Which must be a business is business strategy you wrote about.
Wyatt October 09, 2012 at 08:54 PM
@Betty. No, the property owner didn't complain. Who ever said he or she did? You clearly misread my comment which stated that "the owner shouldn't complain." Shouldn't does not mean "did." Please spend more time reading my comments before continuing wasting my time...

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