WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Conservation Commission will take up the Board of Selectmen's request to lift two parcels' restricted status at a meeting on July 25, but is requesting board members change language in their vote before the process moves forward.
In an email sent to Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Jane Allen on Tuesday, commission Chairman Philip McKnight said the resolution's language should match what was suggested by Town Counsel.
"We're asking Selectmen to adopt that language for both properties, so our vote and the request are as identical as possible," McKnight told the Transcript.
The motion, approved by the board 3-1 on Monday, "requests that the Conservation Commission release from its care, custody and management all or some portions of the Lowry and Burbank properties for affordable housing purposes on either a time-limited or open-ended basis."
McKnight said a letter from Town Counsel Kopelman and Paige, sent to the town in November 2012, recommends the commission vote that Lowry be declared as surplus property and transferred to Selectmen by Town Meeting.
If the Selectmen's request and the commission's vote matched, it would be less likely for the vote to be appealed in court later on, McKnight said.
At this Thursday's meeting of the commission, members will decide what documents, testimony, and reports the commission will require from Selectmen to support the resolution, McKnight wrote.
"An orderly presentation of that material beginning July 25 makes the most sense to us," he wrote. "The Board has the burden of persuading the Commission to support its resolution."
Both the 30 acre Lowry and 136 acre Burbank properties on Stratton Road have long been eyed for affordable housing. Proponents have cited a need for more affordable housing, shown in a recent Housing Needs Assessment. Opponents have called for preservation of the properties, arguing the need for open space and agricultural land.
The Affordable Housing Committee (AHC) proposed the temporary lifting of both properties' status at Monday night's Selectmen meeting, citing a need for more information from developers whether building on each is possible.
AHC Chairwoman Cathy Yamamoto told Selectmen the action would give the committee site control necessary to issue requests for proposals (RFP). Developers would provide the town with information on the feasibility of building on each site, she explained. Some studies on the feasibility have been done, she said, but the AHC believes input from a developer will carry more weight.
"Until we have information from an entity that will put capital into the mix, their time, their employees, their corporate reputation, it's speculation," Yamamoto told Selectmen.
To reach Edward Damon, email