CHINA: Land parcel sale back to square one

by Mary Grow

As of Sept. 27, China selectmen’s effort to sell a 39-acre piece of land on Lakeview Drive is back where it was before they agreed on a buyer at their Aug. 30 meeting.

On Aug. 30, China realtor Lucas Adams told selectmen they had two bids, $10,000 from the local People’s Park group headed by Lindsey Harwath and $80,000 from former China residents Austin “Gerry” and Lynda Ogden. Selectmen authorized Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood to negotiate with the Ogdens. At their Sept. 13 meeting Hapgood said the Ogdens bought the property for $83,000.

At the Sept. 27 meeting, Adams said he had not known China subdivision approvals expire if work is not underway within five years. The land, therefore, is no longer legally a subdivision, and the Ogdens have withdrawn their $83,000 offer.

Adams revised his valuation of the lot from $80,000 upward to $55,000 upward. There are currently three bids, he said: the People’s Park has again bid $10,000, the Ogdens have bid $40,000 and resident Troy Bulmer has bid $40,000.

Adams told Selectman Janet Preston that Bulmer does not want to see the land developed. Lindsey Harwath, President of the People’s Park group, said she had talked with him.

After half an hour’s discussion, selectmen voted unanimously to authorize Adams, with whom they have a six-month contract, to market the property at $59,000, with bids due by their next meeting, which will be at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 12 (rescheduled due to the Oct. 11 Indigenous People’s Day holiday); and meanwhile to negotiate for higher bids from the three current bidders.

Adams said he would keep Hapgood informed.

Audience comments on the issue included a prepared statement by resident Marie Michaud urging selectmen to leave the land undeveloped to protect its varied wildlife and avoid more run-off into China Lake. In addition to potential run-off from developed areas, a stream on the lot “flows directly into China Lake,” she said.

Michaud reminded selectmen that in two town visioning sessions held as part of the process of updating the town’s comprehensive plan, residents had indicated a preference for preserving green spaces, open land and farmland. Selectmen are “currently not following what your constituents said they want,” she said.

Harwath, Stephen Greene and Brent Chesley had questions about Adams’ research and marketing.

Adams told Chesley the property had been listed online, and he had received telephone inquiries. He agreed with Chesley’s comment that no sign was posted on the ground until late in the process.

Adams said wetlands lower the property’s sale value. He and Selectman Wayne Chadwick discussed whether it has a septic system easement for the condominiums on the west side of Lakeview Drive, or whether all such easements are on an abutting lot.

In other business at the Sept. 27 selectmen’s meeting, board members chose, conditionally, a supplier for heat pumps for town buildings and agreed with Regional School Unit (RSU) #18 on a bus parking area on the town office grounds.

At their Sept. 13 meeting, selectmen looked at five bids for heat pumps for the transfer station and the town office. They postponed a decision while Hapgood confirmed which venders are “Efficiency Maine commercial qualified partners” eligible for rebates (if state funds are available).

Hapgood said all but one bidder is so qualified. Selectmen therefore awarded the bid to the lowest qualified bidder, Rod’s HPAC Installs, of Windsor, for $14,520. The decision is contingent on Selectman Blane Casey’s being satisfied with the proposed scope of work that he will review and compare with at least one other bidder’s.

RSU #18 Transportation Director Lennie Goff explained that the RSU needs room to park from three to occasionally five buses. Hapgood said she and Goff had considered school and town properties and agreed on an area off the back entranceway to the town office complex, between the buildings and Alder Park Road.

RSU #18 will create and maintain a gravel parking lot and provide electrical service to it, and will take care of snow removal at the same time as school grounds are cleared. Goff and Hapgood both will look into any possible insurance needs.

Hapgood said the area will have minimal impact on the office buildings. She and Goff agreed that the buses will be moved temporarily to the school grounds if the town needs extra parking, for example during an election.

Selectmen unanimously accepted the agreement.

They also approved exploring options and getting cost estimates to repair the dry hydrant on Routes 202 and 9 at the head of China Lake, between the blinker at the Route 137 intersection and the Circle K gas station and convenience store.

Hapgood said the new hydrant installed at the causeway froze over the winter, leading firefighters to ask about repairing the old one. No one knows whether it is plugged or whether a pipe is broken.

The manager said costs would be paid from the volunteer fire departments’ reserve fund.

In other business, selectmen appointed a list of ballot clerks for the Nov. 2 election and appointed Terry Demerchant secretary for the Municipal Building Committee.

They authorized Hapgood to sign American Rescue Plan Act funding documents. She is still accepting suggestions for ways to spend ARPA money.


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