HANSON — Town Planner Tony DeFrias has completed a comprehensive inventory of town-owned property with an eye toward the potential for revenue development by the town.
“Historically, as a board — at least since Mr. [Jim] Hickey and I have been on — we’ve been pretty good about getting properties that were perhaps taken for back taxes, back onto the rolls … and get them sold,” said Select Board Chair Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett.
But, she added the town’s Economic Development Committee “really wanted to look at [whether there are] other properties that the town owns that we could leverage” back into private hands as a way to attract businesses to town. DeFrias then took on the task of reviewing the status of town-owned properties to start that process.
There are 72 properties owned or controlled by the town — 17 have public buildings or public spaces and 55 town-owned — he reported to the board on Tuesday, July 19.
“This is perfect,” Select Board member Ed Heal said after DeFrias’ presentation. “Even this is a lot of work.”
“Now that we have this information do we want to do anything with this?” Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett agreed, noting more conversation is needed.
DeFrias recommended the board study the report and plan a future discussion on which properties may be sold and which should be passed along to Conservation or the Water Department.
Disposition of town property falls under MGL Ch. 3OB §16, he said, noting that Article 35 of the 1965 Hanson Town Meeting requires consultation with the Conservation Commission prior to disposition of land as a means of preserving waste land for conservation.
From 1994-2020, 36 of those properties were taken for taxes, with the total amount of taxes owed being $620,814.52 as of Jan. 12, 2021. One of the properties also carries a septic loan.
The properties come under three categories: 12 come under Conservation land, eight are recommended to be considered Water Department Credit land and 11 are buildable or potentially buildable land. Those remaining have specific uses such as drainage or easement, according to DeFrias.
Buildable properties would require further investigation to determine their true potential.
One such 3.30-acres parcel is at 212 Industrial Blvd., another is the 3.34 acres of property at 533 Main St., where the former L.Z. Thomas School Housing Authority apartments are located in a Residence A Zone. Yet another 1.21 acres is the property which includes the Historical Society building is now located at 565 Main St.
“There’s a potential here to create additional housing, and affordable housing for the town,” he said. It’s also part of a larger site because of nearby parcels also on the list.
FitzGerald-Kemmett said the Economic Development Commission has been exploring the possibilities the area near the Bonney House as part of an historical “village,” but she agrees with DeFrias, who said it could also remain where it is. A lot of the plans depend on completed renovations at the Bonney House
“This is one of 100 steps,” DeFrias said. “We’re looking at alternatives.”
The 212 Industrial Blvd., property is at the industrial park within the commercial-industrial zone as well as the marijuana overlay district and falls within a Zone 2 Wellhead Protection District.
“This is a potential vacant piece of land that’s owned by the town that could be sold off for a business or an industrial building,” he said. Board of Health, Conservation Commission and, probably, ZBA approval for site plan would be required before development.
A 1.19 acre parcel at 0 Main St., has potential for several possible uses, including a possible second fire station if that were needed, DeFrias said.. At 0 West Washington St, a larger parcel of 7.17 acres nextdoor to the Water Department building is also in a commercial-industrial zone. But the fact that it is traversed by a 70- foot water main easement in a Zone 2 Water Protection District, means it may be better-suited to a business park with the proper engineering.
“If we’re looking for business and trying to increase our business, there isn’t a lot of room in Hanson,” he said, noting that the properties would all have to be further investigated. “There’s potential there.”
DeFrias also discussed some smaller parcels during his PowerPoint presentation, including two residential property sites at 69 Wood St., and 62 Ocean Ave.
“The board needs to go through the list and decide what we need to do with it,” DeFias said.