At issue are over 100 time-share weeks taken by the town through tax sale with more than $100,000 owed in taxes, over $100,000 in maintenance fees the Dover Watch owner’s association claims the town owes, and – perhaps the biggest issue – maximum zoning density requirements that prevent Dover Watch from completing construction on a number of units.
On Tuesday, selectboard chair Randy Terk reported the results of the town’s latest tax sale – none of the 100-plus Dover Watch time-share weeks were sold. Although board members hoped an entrepreneur might purchase the time-share weeks as a business investment, no bidders expressed interest in the weeks.
Former planning commissioner and recent selectboard member William “Buzzy” Buswell called on the board to settle the matter with Dover Watch. Buswell said the current town plan acknowledged the problem with zoning density at Dover Watch and Tara, another project originally started by developer Eugene Ettlinger. However, when it came to zoning changes, the increase in zoning density called for in the town plan was dropped because it would have only affected those properties. “Now we call that spot zoning,” Buswell said. “I don’t know how you can call that spot zoning when it (Dover Watch) was already there when zoning was written.”
Buswell said it was up to the selectboard to bring closure to the matter. “It’s something we created, and it really has to be addressed,” he said. “It looks like the planning commission doesn’t want to do anything about it because they call it spot zoning. That leaves it up to you.”
Terk said he thought it was an issue that Dover Watch should address with the planning commission. “I’m not sure this is something that should be addressed from the top down,” he said. “I think the first step would be for (Dover Watch) to approach the planning commission.”
Buswell said the planning commission has already spoken on the matter, and they’ve said a change in density would be spot zoning. He urged the board to negotiate with Dover Watch. “If they’ll say ‘Look, we’ll take these things (time-share weeks) back if we can resolve this density issue,’ I think it’s something we have to look into so we can move along.”
At that point, Steve Moore, president of Dover Watch, stood to address the board from the back of the room. “We haven’t heard a word from the planning commission,” he said.
Moore said there were people ready to “build out” the remaining Dover Watch plan, which he said would make the development profitable, but “The planning commission didn’t want to hear about it.”
Moore said he’d meet with the selectboard or anyone who would resolve the matter. “We’re losing members. You have weeks we can sell. If there isn’t a resolution to this, the town is going to end up owning the entire thing.”
Terk indicated that he might be willing to schedule such a meeting, but only after board members had an opportunity to meet with the planning commission and review the history behind the issue. “I’m not against conversations to find a resolution, but we as a selectboard need to have a history so we’re prepared to discuss the issues.”
Terk asked Moore to come to the next board meeting (Tuesday, June 18) to deliver a presentation on the issues and history from the Dover Watch perspective. “And if you could come up with some solutions that don’t include changing the zoning, seeing as that didn’t happen four years ago, that would be great,” said board member Joe Mahon. “I realize that may be what you want, but it may not happen.”
In other matters, economic development specialist Ken Black asked the board for authorization to spend funds and sign contracts for the construction of the planned Dover Park at the corner of Route 100 and Country Club Road. Terk called for a motion to authorize Black to “sign all contracts related to economic development.”
Buswell objected to the open-ended nature of the motion. “I think that’s a bad idea,” he said, “no offense to Ken and the park committee – they’ve done a great job. But to give them broad authorization for whatever may come up in the future. We need the selectboard to be on top of things. If you say Ken can enter into contracts for (the park), no problem, but not for anything that may come up. As far as the park goes, I say go for the roses.”
Terk said the motion gave Black no more authority than other department heads had. “We’re talking about an administrative function.”
Town administrator Nona Monis asked if “a quorum of the board” had discussed the matter before Tuesday evening’s meeting. “No,” said Terk. “Why do you ask?”
“Just asking,” said Monis.
The motion was amended, clarifying that Black could sign contracts for expenditures that had been authorized by the selectboard. “I withdraw my objection,” Buswell said.
Black said work on the park should begin soon, and noted that the name “Dover Park” had been chosen, and a sign with the name and the town logo would be erected at the site. “We should see things starting to happen in the next couple of weeks, and people will start to know that there really is something going on there,” Black said.
Responding to a question from board member Vicki Capitani, Black said the park gazebo would come partially-built, and would be assembled in one day by Amish craftsmen.