Plan to purchase White Horse Beach land clears another hurdle

Selectmen voted to support the purchase of 161 Taylor Avenue during their Tuesday night meeting.

The Community Preservation Committee wants  to tear down the two houses next to Bartlett Pond Brook in order to improve access to the area for Department of Public Works vehicles, CPC Chairman Bill Keohan said.

This, he told selectmen, would help speed up cleaning up of the area after major storms.  The brook, Keohan said, becomes clogged with sediment and debris, which can result in yards and basements flooding. That, in turn, can cause septic systems to overflow.

The property’s septic system would also be removed.

Christine Bostek, President  of the Sands of  White Horse Beach Association, expressed her opposition to the plan, presenting a packet to selectmen with the names of property owners in the area who are opposed to the purchase. While the records the CPC is using show the town already has a right of way along the brook, Bostek disputes this, saying the property in question extends all the way to the brook. She warned property abutters would defend their rights in land court, calling the claims made by the CPC “false and misleading.” “We have clear title to the property,” Keohan  said.

Bostek stated the land’s owner, Manuel Jorge, was pressured into selling to the town after his attempts to build a single family home were rejected. Jorge has owned it for over 40 years.  Keohan said the CPC wants to set a high standard when dealing with potential sellers. The land, he said, is appraised by a mutually agreed upon person before a deal is struck.

Before the vote, Selectmen John Mahoney spoke in support, saying that million of gallons of untreated waste have flowed into the bay via the brook. “We have to continue being engaged on White Horse Beach,” he said.

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