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May 8, 2013

Charting the future of Conomo Point

Essex voters back new district, KO legal funds

ESSEX — With 268 residents at the Monday night’s Annual Town Meeting, voters deliberated for 3 1/2 hours on 17 of the 41 articles, with the meeting carrying into a second night on Tuesday.

But voters Monday night approved a new zoning bylaw that allows for the subdivision of 22 Robbins Island Road and Beach Circle properties on a tally of 194-97.

Opponents of the article cited the lack of a clear overall Conomo Point plan approved at a town meeting, increased costs of selling the lots, environmental concerns and preserving the properties for the town. And just seconds after the votes were counted, Stuart Pratt presented a motion to reconsider the article, but that motion failed.

“They are not looking at environmental considerations, fiscal considerations, or land use considerations,” said resident Maria Burnham.

Resident Bruce Fortier said he thought the town was receiving more bad financial advice from officials, adding the financial gains would benefit the town.

“Within 10 years, it will all be spent,” he said of the money gained from any future sales approved at central Conomo Point.

But supporters of the article said the sale of the central district, which can be carried out with the area subdivided, is the most financially sound way to meet the state Department of Environmental Protection’s mandate to get Conomo Point using under 10,000 of gallons of waters per day, complying with the Title 5 septic system guidelines.

“We simply cannot afford to remove homes and turn this property over,” Selectmen Lisa O’Donnell said.

Mark Lynch, who chairs the Conomo Point Planning Committee, said there is a full plan for Conomo Point which involved much public participation.

“After years and discussion and deliberation, this plan is the best use of our asset,” he said. “A master plan is a living, breathing, changing document.”

Lynch added master plans are typically not voted upon by the town as a whole. Any plan voted upon at a town meeting would likely lock the plans in place.

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