Five Rivers project hits 20-foot snag

Mathusa said at the Tuesday, Sept. 16, planning board meeting that there was some confusion over the donated land and he was looking for adequate access to the property

"I, maybe erroneously, believed we had another access because it's important to get to that park," Mathusa said at that meeting, calling the property "landlocked."

At the Oct. 7 planning board meeting, the topic once again came up. The stalemate has caused frustrations for all parties involved, including town planners and Richards, who now lives in California, to the point where one neighbor offered to buy a piece of the land from Richards and deed it over to the town.

Bakner said in September that it was an "oddly shaped parcel," and that she was unsure if they could give the full 20-foot easement with the current plans.

"If we gave you 20 feet back to here," she said, pointing at a map during the meeting, "I don't know what it would give up."

Bakner reminded the board of what the property would be worth to a developer and, on behalf of Richards, expressed frustration over the delays in approval.

"She's quite frustrated with the process here, not with the board, but with the process," Bakner said. "She's being given $60,000 for 24 acres [the access land in question], and she could turn around tomorrow and get $300,000. At some point, you hit a tipping point. I will ask her, that is all I can do."

Michael Morelli, the town's assistant director of economic development and planning, said everyone wants to move forward, and he hopes to see the project come to fruition.

"She just wants to get this done," he said of Richards' proposal. "I would hate to see this get hung up on the process."

Even though the project has been in the review process for several months, dating back to last May, Morelli said the town has been working diligently to move it forward.

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