ROCKPORT — The town's Tool Company Task Force has had its last meeting, and will be issuing a report at the selectmen's Feb. 28 meeting.
The Task Force, which was formed in November of 2011, was charged with studying possible options to deal with the Granite Street site of the long-defunct Cape Ann Tool Company.
The owner of the property, Christopher Kaneb, has permits to develop the property, but long legal battles with local residents have him looking to sell the property rather than develop it himself.
None of the committee members were willing to comment on the content of the report the committee will give to the selectmen, though the report will likely make recommendations.
"The best option is to have it developed as is before the permits expire," said task force member Marie Larsen, who emphasized that was her opinion and was not the official position of the Task Force.
"We did our job, that's all we can do," added Larsen, who is a neighbor of the Tool Company site and has long pushed for its demolition as a Pigeon Cove eyesore.
The Task Force was asked to study methods for the town to influence the outcome of the property, including the possibility of the town purchasing the site to develop or turn into public space.
"We're confident that we have done our job," said committee member Peter Bergholtz. "It's up to the selectmen now."
The permits Kaneb still holds allow for a 22-unit residential condominium complex along with some commercial zones. An earlier estimate claims that the town could take in $250,000 per year in property taxes if the condos are built.
Though the exact contents of the report are not public yet, it is possible to predict what it will say based on meeting minutes.
For one thing, the fact that Kaneb has said he is willing to sell the property to the town negates the necessity of having the town acquire the property through eminent domain, which is used to force owners to sell, and which was seen as one of the early options.
The price for the Tool Company site has been set at $2.9 million. Kaneb said in late January that he had not yet found a buyer and would be willing to sell the property to the town.
If a new buyer were to take over the property, work would have to begin on construction before 2013 in order to comply with the issued variances. If not, or if the new owner wants to build something different from what has been permitted, the entire permitting process would have to begin again.
During the last permitting process, some Rockport residents objected to the plans to develop the site. And Stevan Goldin, the Gloucester environmental activist, led the charge against the development of the site and was locked in a legal battle with Kaneb for several years before the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that construction could move forward.
By the time the challenge was dismissed, the economy had collapsed, slowing any development of the site.
Stephanie Bergman can contacted at 978-283-7000 x3451 or email@example.com