We wish to thank Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito for awarding The Mill Farm Initiative $250,000 to remove the Dam and restore the Millers River. We look forward to when parents are fishing in the River with their children and the fresh water recreation can be enjoyed by all. A Summer's evening on the Riverfront. Has a nice, relaxing ring of comfort to it.
We will continue to work with DEP, Dam Safety, Ecological Restoration and the Town to coordinate Public Hearings. Your tax dollars coming home. Your State sending them for safety and economic development. There are more announcements to come.
On March 9, 2017, The Mill Farm Initiative Incorporated sought permission from the Department of Dam Safety to breach White's Mill Pond Dam after being unable to submit for a Historic Tax Credit Designation to the Massachusetts Historic Commission. This permission was granted after extensive conversations on how to economically save the structure.
We received notice from the Office of Dam Safety to "repair or breach the dam" as the Mill Owner before us had received since 1980. There are multiple issues to consider when breaching the dam. The methodology will ensure the safety of Winchendon's residents and allow for a vibrant White's Mill Riverfront.
We will preserve the character of the dam by keeping the design and creating unique channels for the River to flow through. This will be accomplished through the Massachusetts Historic Commission regulations and approval process and Office of Dam Safety regulations. The design will allow for maximum Public Recreation on the White's Mill Flow of the Millers River. The Community has been invited to help implement the wishes of Residents who have donated land for the purpose of recreation on the Pond. We embrace the opportunity to have public input to solidify this opportunity for future generations to enjoy the beauty and bounty of the Historic North Branch, the Headwaters of the Miller's River. As of January 1, 2018, two proposals have been accepted for engineering the project and a decision will be made by January 20, 2018. The Law Firm of Green Miles Lipton, LLP will represent the Non Profit through the extensive permitting process.
On July 14, 2014, the previous owner was notified of an oil sheen in the river by a neighbor alerting the Fire Department. On August 21, 2014, the previous owner was notified by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection through issuance of a "Notice of Responsibility" to Mil-Win, Incorporated that the site was Classified as Tier I and emergency cleanup began.
The site was abandoned after the initial cleanup and it was purchased on April 8, 2015 with the assumption of the remaining cleanup. The site has since been inspected under Cooperstown Environmental and has been released as a Tier II. The test wells were installed and completion of the project will come in Summer 2018.
The Spill is lubrication oil from historical use of the Water Power that was the lifeblood of the Winchendon Springs Community. The incident will not restrict use or cause "areas of limited use". The chemicals in present day lubricants were not used in the 1860's, but any contaminants are too many in a pure water supply. The cleanup will benefit the entire Community, economically and recreationally. It will restore a historic treasure to the Community and return that building to a structure that houses productive, sustainable, agricultural and economic development for the Community.
In April, 2015 the property was granted tax deferment, by the Town, in order to facilitate the purchase of White's Mill. Brandywine Farms, Incorporated started negotiations with the Town before the purchase based on the Brownfield Tax Abatement By-law and a draft agreement was issued in March of 2017. To date, the cleanup costs to the The Mill Farm Initiative, Inc. have totaled more than $300,000. The Agreement is being negotiated with the Town by Green Miles Lipton, LLP.
ARTICLE 27 BROWNFIELD TAX ABATEMENT Brownfield Tax Abatement Agreements
SECTION 27.1: The purpose of this by-law is to encourage the clean-up and redevelopment of contaminated industrial or commercial sites or portions of sites by providing a method by which the Town of Winchendon may enter into tax abatement agreements pursuant to MGL Chapter 59 Section 59A and this by-law.
SECTION 27.2: Property which may be the subject of a tax abatement agreement pursuant to this by-law must: (a) be a site or portion of a site from or at which there has been a release of oil or hazardous material; and (b) be owned by an eligible person, as that term is defined in MGL Chapter 21E section 2; and (c) be zoned for commercial or industrial use.
SECTION 27.3: The Town Manager, or the Director of Planning and Development with the Town Manager’s approval, are authorized to negotiate agreements providing for the abatement of real estate taxes with owners of eligible properties.
SECTION 27.4: The agreement must specify all details regarding payment of any outstanding taxes, interest or penalties including the amount owed, the rate of interest to accrue if any, the amount of monthly payments, the payment schedule, late penalties and all other terms and conditions agreed to by the town and the property owner. As part of the agreement the property owner must provide a detailed statement and supporting evidence that demonstrates there is adequate financing available to accomplish clean-up of the contamination or hazardous materials, and that the reduction in outstanding taxes, interest or penalties is reasonably necessary to complete the clean-up. The agreement may allow for reductions in outstanding real-estate taxes, interest and penalties, or full or partial payments therefore, and such other terms and conditions as the town deems reasonable and necessary to ensure the timely clean-up and redevelopment of the parcel or portion thereof.
SECTION 27.5: The Board of Selectmen may approve, by majority vote, a tax abatement agreement where the total value of the abated taxes, penalties and interest is less than $100,000. If the total value of the tax abatement is $100,000 or more, then town meeting must approve the agreement by majority vote.
SECTION 27.6: The tax abatement agreement must be signed by the chairman of the Board of Selectmen and the property owner, and their signatures notarized, and the agreement attested to by the Town Clerk. Copies must be provided to the Massachusetts Commissioner of Revenue, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the property owner, the Board of Selectmen, the Town Manager, Town Clerk, Town Assessor, Town Collector, and Planning Board.