Letter on Milford’s Brox property was inaccurate

To the Editor:

When people are passionate about a cause, emotion very often clouds the facts.

That would be the case in the letter to the editor in the Feb. 27 Milford Cabinet titled, “Vote no on Article 21.” The information contained in that letter would register “Mostly False” on the Truth-Meter you often see in The Nashua Telegraph .

As Milford’s planning director from 1993 to 2005 and as community development director from 2006 to the present, I have been involved in all aspects of the Brox property and its planning. The Selectmen were first approached by Brox Industries to see if the town was interested in purchasing the property in 1995. After several years of study, a voter-authorized committee recommended to the Selectmen that the property be purchased and that the residentially zoned portion – the so-called “community lands” – be retained for future community uses and the industrially-zoned parcels be sold for economic development. This purchase was overwhelmingly approved in 2000 by a vote of 1,318-538.

Over the past 14 years, three citizen-based committees have studied and laid out master planning efforts for the Brox community lands. In 2005, a professionally prepared conceptual master plan was accepted by the Board of Selectmen. Funding for this plan was approved by voters in 2004. This master plan effort, contrary to what is stated in last week’s letter, did contain a geotechnical engineering report/soil mining feasibility study prepared by Clough, Harbour & Associates in Keene.

This report indicated the existence of significant earth material resources (gravel) and described the necessary steps in the engineering and permitting process in the event the town was to undertake the excavation of these materials.

As a means to fund a single public road (an extension of Heron Pond Road) and utilities consistent with the 2005 conceptual plan, in 2007, the Selectmen put forth three warrant articles, including a warrant article authorizing the Selectmen to sell existing earth materials. This article again was overwhelming approved by the voters (1,444-582). The article was written to expire in 2012.

Milford voters will be asked to reauthorize the selectmen to sell the existing earth materials on the Brox property with Article 21. Approval gives the Board of Selectmen this option as a means to obtain much-needed revenue sources. Selectmen are fully aware that excavation operations and reclamation must be based on detailed engineered plans that can only move forward if all local and state approvals are obtained. Gravel operations are heavily regulated to keep impacts minimal and reclamation is held to the strictest environmental standards.

The Brox property is in the town’s Master Plan to be used for economic development, community uses and conservation. Integrating its significant environmental, wetland and habitat qualities has always been part of the planning efforts.

For the past two years, a small group of citizens, coming very late in the process, has made it a cause to reserve the entire Brox property for conservation and open space.

This has never been the plan. The Planning Board has posted for public review and comment the update of the 2005 conceptual Master Plan, authored by the Brox Community Lands Master Plan Update Committee. This report, completed just this past January, reflects the collaborative interests of municipal departments, recreation interests, the school district and the Conservation Commission. These stakeholders have been a part of all planning efforts since 2000. This comprehensive update report can be read by going to the town’s website homepage at www.milford.nh.gov.

Recent letters to the editor regarding the Brox property and Article 21 have been disingenuous. There is probably no other municipal issue that has had more citizen and official input, study and plans prepared over the years than the Brox properties.

To suggest that no homework has been done, that there are no checks and balances, and that open space and conservation are not part of the plan is plainly inaccurate and a misrepresentation of the hard work and planning done by many, many people over the years to reflect the wishes of Milford voters.

BILL PARKER

Community
Development director

town of Milford