Oak Hill Study Committee Makes Final Recommendations to BOS
The committee made numerous recommendations including conservation space, more public access, and a ban on hunting in the area.
Susan Carter, chairperson of the Oak Hill Study Committee, presented her committee’s final recommendations to the Chelmsford Board of Selectmen on Monday night.
“I just want to thank all the committee members,” Carter began. “We were a diverse crowd with different backgrounds and different opinions and everyone managed to work together to form a compromise,” she informed the board and the meeting’s audience.
“Everyone got to see the fruits of their labor,” she gleamed.
Carter was proud to point out that the final recommendations were voted on unanimously, something that Board of Selectmen chairman Jon Kurland thought was worth pointing out.
“I know it was a daunting task, maybe even more challenging by the fact that there were so many people with diverse interests and perspectives,” Kurland said.
“The fact that the committee has come up with a unanimous vote, to be quite frank, I’m pleasantly surprised,” he admitted.
Carter presented six specific recommendations, as follows:
First, Oak Hill should be officially recognized as Open Space Conservation land.
Second, the control over the Oak Hill area should be transferred to the Conservation Commission within three years.
“If one board was coordinating the effort it would be a much more cohesive process and we felt that three years was enough time,” Carter said.
Kurland responded and indicated that this change in control was unlikely.
“I would like to remind people that it’s been under the control of the Board of the Selectmen since the town took control of the property,” Kurland said.
The third recommendation suggested that another committee be put in place to monitor important decisions regarding parking, fencing, a bridge to cross a stream, wildlife signs, and historical granite quarry signs.
Fourth, a Conservation Restriction be drafted under a thirty year term. This thirty year term, Carter explained, would be to allow for future governments to add legislation regarding new types of recreation.
Fifth, the Committee recommended the land for the following uses: historical preservation, public access, recreation, and camping.
During the fifth recommendation, Carter also pointed out that the following activities and items should not be allowed at Oak Hill: residential, commercial and industrial construction, billboards, hunting, and the removal of trees and granite.
Finally, the committee recommended that the Board of Selectmen not infringe on the property of abutters, most of which were warm to the idea of using the land for conservation.
The board filed a motion to accept these recommendations.
In lieu of Roland Van Liew’s accusation of Oak Hill Study Committee member Philip Stanway potentially working to get the town to engage in logging at Oak Hill, Carter explained the difference between logging and forestry management upon the request of board chairman Jon Kurland.
“Forestry management is about keeping your forest healthy,” Carter explained. “It’s not clear cutting, it’s not strip cutting, it’s doing what’s needed to keep the trees healthy.”
The Oak Hill Study Committee will meet once more to finalize its recommendations.
CORRECTION: Van Liew claimed that Stanway was working to get logging for the town, not Stanway's personal benefit.