The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 9, 1999


Town retains water study rights on O'Rourke

In the deed for O'Rourke Farm to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which the delivered on April 1, the town retained the right to locate a potential municipal water supply on the land. An article is on the Warrant for the May 4 Town Meeting to expend up to $30,000 for engineering and consulting services associated with evaluating the property for the possible water supply.

According to Greg Peterson, Carlisle Land Trust member and a key player in negotiating the sale, the town retained the water rights over 100 of the 129 acres on the property. Water rights include the right to drill a well and install the necessary pumping equipment to create a municipal water system. The town agreed to identify within three years where on the 100 acres the well would be drilled. If the town does not specifically identify the location of the well within three years, the town effectively loses the water rights, said Peterson.

Selectmen clarified that the actual well need not be drilled within three years but the location must be identified within the time deadline. The town would receive an easement to drill the well for any time in the future.

In order to locate the best spot for a well, geologic studies must be performed. The selectmen allocated $30,000 for this purpose to be approved at Town Meeting. If the study finds that the well can be located on what the parties have agreed is the nondevelopable portion of the property, then the town will receive an additional $115,000. If the well must be located on the developable portion of the lot, the town will not receive any more money from Fish and Wildlife.

Peterson explained that the reason the town will not get any more money is not because the federal government is planning to develop part of the farm but is merely based on how the government valued the property. "For any property it buys, the government is required to pay full and fair market value. That means development value," said Peterson. Installation of a well on the developable part of the property decreases the value of the property to Fish and Wildlife and, therefore, decreases the amount it must pay to the town.

Moreover, developing the property is not compatible with the conservation purposes for which Fish and Wildlife acquired the farm, said Peterson. "They don't want to build houses," said Peterson. "They want to protect the land for the birds and the bees."

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito