Request for funds to complete 'slum and blight' study approved
ATHOL — The selectboard on Tuesday approved a request to use $8,750 in program income to allow for the completion of a downtown “slum and blight” study.
Director of Planning and Development Eric Smith made the request, as there are several updates that are required to complete the study. “These updates are in the form of individual property and infrastructure-level evaluations, summary spreadsheets and required map changes that must be completed,” he said.
Smith said the study will assist with the town’s seeking of Community Development Block Grant funds from the state.
Smith noted in his written request that the modest investment, in the end, “will pay dividends down the road, so long as CDBG is a viable program...The goal is to complete this project for submission to the [state’s] Department of Housing and Community Development in the fall of 2017. This timetable would facilitate the town being eligible to direct future CDBG dollars to our downtown.”
The board approved a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement with Athol Solar Holdings LLC for the solar field located across from the North Quabbin Business Park on Templeton Road.
Under the agreement, 20 annual payments will be made. The payments will be for $8,500 per megawatt (DC) and be escalated at 1.5 percent on each anniversary of the commencement date, as defined in the agreement.
Principal Assessor Lisa Aldrich noted the agreement is for the solar panels only. The property will still be taxed at the regular rate.
It was noted a landscaping plan for the site includes barrier fencing that has yet to be installed at the edge of the property abutting Templeton Road.
The board signed the right-of-way and pole attachment agreement previously voted to allow for Mobilitie to place a utility pole, with conditions, on the town-owned grassy area abutting the entrance to the upper municipal parking deck on South Street.
The purpose of the pole is to allow for a Wi-Fi booster to be located there to enhance cellphone coverage for Sprint in the downtown area.
Selectwoman Holly Young was opposed, as she feels the $1,000 annual fee is not enough and access to the pole is not open to other cellphone providers.
The board voted 4-1, with Selectman William Caldwell opposed, to approve three 30-day unregistered vehicle permits for vehicles located at 1060 Main St.
Two are for box trucks owned by Patrick Mcglone and a car owned by Annette Hagie.
Regarding the trucks, Mcglone said he requested the permits to allow time to dispose of equipment stored in the trucks. Once emptied, he will remove the trucks.
Hagie noted in her request the car is for her daughter, but she is unsure if her daughter intends to register it.
Both can request an extension of the permits upon their expiration.
Smith provided a brief update on the impending installation of an accessible river dock along Millers River at the Alan E. Rich Environmental Park on Main Street.
A celebration and ribbon cutting will take place on June 17. A detailed article on the dock appeared on page 1 of the June 1 edition of the Athol Daily News.
A scheduled public hearing regarding the transfer of the liquor license for Athol House of Pizza was removed from the agenda due to a clerical error in the legal advertisement announcing the hearing.
The next meeting is set for Tuesday, June 20.