As of the end of June, Massachusetts home sales had dropped for four consecutive months, in spite of the lowest interest rates in decades. In a difficult market one needs every advantage possible. Typically a sign that says “waterfront property for sale” warrants a premium over a comparable home away from the water. In fact many people along Calvin Street and other streets surrounding Flannagan Pond paid such a premium when they purchased their pond side property.
Today that same pond is a liability in selling your home, because it has degraded to swamp due to years of continued neglect. I know of neighbors who had deals fall through as the pond regressed through the season.
Over the past year we have made tremendous strides in making people in and out of Town Hall aware of the profound negative impact these years of neglect have had on this valuable recreation resource, as well as on the value of homes that surround the pond.
When I hear Selectman Maxant (who once again publicly defamed me, labeling me deceitful and manipulative at Wednesday evenings CPC meeting) suggest that pond clean-up is a “betterment” to our property I am rather amazed at his twisted logic. Collectively the Town’s neglect has caused harm to the residents and his idea of an equitable solution is to somehow levy a surcharge on homeowners to have the Town cleanup a mess that they exacerbated through deferred maintenance.
Maxant’s suggestion that the Town can abdicate responsibility for the impact that they have caused on local properties seems somewhat contradictory of a Town’s responsibility of encouraging a vibrant economy in all sectors, whether they be commercial, industrial or residential property. In fact, that is one of the key reasons for having Zoning Bylaws. Typically zoning proponents defend restrictions as promoting greater economic efficiency by protecting the property values of a given area, as well as limiting subsequent nuisance claims when landowners have already made large investments in their land. So on one hand, the Town assumes its charge is to collectively protect and even increase the value of its land through regulation; and perhaps encourage investment in property improvements through TIFs and Community Preservation grants and yet ignore the fact that their laxness in other areas is negating gains made by the aforementioned programs.
Under the common law, persons in possession of real property are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their lands. If a neighbor interferes with that quiet enjoyment, either by creating smells, sounds, pollution or any other hazard that extends past the boundaries of the property, the affected party may make a claim in nuisance. For the landowners surrounding Flannagan Pond, the bad neighbor is actually the Town, who neglected their responsibility as managers of dams and waterways.
It is my desire to work with the Town to keep this issue in the forefront so that it gets the attention it deserves. In doing so, I do not expect to be insulted and defamed by elected officials, nor do I expect to be threatened with surcharges to clean up a mess I did not create. I applaud various members of boards and committees who are sympathetic to our cause and who are working with us to find a resolution. Then there are others, who seem to place more value on being right, than on doing right.
Note: The top photo was shot in 2007, the bottom one is the same view shot last week, four years later.