Conservation Commission Recommends ‘No’ Vote on Town Forest Article

The Conservation Commission is recommending a no vote on Article 12 on the Town Warrant. 

The warrant is up for discussion at the Saturday, Feb. 8 Town Deliberative Session.

The article is a citizen’s petition that seeks to transfer responsibility for the Town Forest from the Conservation Commission to the Town Manager, with advice by the Historic District/Heritage Commission, Conservation Commission and Town Council.

The petition claims it would have a zero tax impact, and states the transfer would allow for the clean-up and public use of the parcel.

Town cemetery sexton Kent Allen presented the citizen’s petition. He has taken a different approach to forest “clean-up” than the Conservation Commission and the town forester.

Conservation chair Deb Lievens took issue with the claim that the warrant article would have no tax impact.

“There was no Budget Committee interest in this (article) because they said there was no financial consideration involved, and I have said to people several times that there is some financial consideration because there is management of bittersweet and other forest management considerations,” Lievens said at the Tuesday, Jan. 28 Conservation Commission meeting. “That Deliberative Session is on Feb. 8. Do we want to be sure there is presence to talk at this event?”

Commissioner Eugene Harrington noted, “It’s not like we really have to make a presentation, we’d be more there in case there is a question.”

“I’m OK with just seeing what happens,” Lievens said. “A scenario is that it passes and they come to us for financial support for the bittersweet and I don’t know what our obligation is with the money that we do have.”

Harrington said the commission can only expend commission money on land the commission manages, and if the article passes, the commission would not be the manager of the land.

“This really removes the Town Forest from consideration,” Harrington said.

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