I recently received and shared with the Board of Selectmen and the public a new proposal for the Country Club of Woodbridge property. In my view, this proposal is a significant improvement on any other plan I have seen, and one that may well warrant consideration by the voters of Woodbridge.
As a reminder, Town land can only be sold if approved by the voters. It is not up to the Board of Selectmen (BOS) or any Town Board or Commission.
During our many meetings and countless conversations about the Country Club of Woodbridge (CCW) I have listened carefully and I have concluded that Woodbridge residents are looking for:
- a financially viable plan;
- recreational opportunities;
- open space preservation;
- housing for seniors; and
- the preservation of the character of the town.
It is my view that the BOS has a responsibility to identify, if possible, a plan that maximizes these goals and to the greatest extent possible makes them complementary to each other so that we can put the discord about the CCW behind us. If the BOS identifies such a plan, we should refer it to a referendum for voters to decide whether or not it is right for Woodbridge. Again, any decision to sell Town property is up to the voters.
Last week, Toll Brothers offered a new plan that merits serious consideration by our residents. The key elements of this new plan are:
- Toll Brothers would purchase 42 of the approximately 150 acres of CCW property for $5 million paid up front;
- Toll Brothers would build 80 homes for seniors age 55 and older; and
- The prices would start in the mid-$300,000s, about the median price for a home in Woodbridge.
What does this means for us?
- The $5M pays off our remaining debt on the property and the Town would own more than 100 acres of land debt-free;
- The Town would be relieved of the annual debt payments of approximately $400,000; and
- The Town would receive an annual net tax payment of approximately $600,000 once the project is complete.
The Town could easily afford to retain and run the pool. Additionally, we would place a conservation easement on a large parcel assuring open space for the future and decide on other uses for the remaining land that could include cross-country skiing, walking and biking trails, an ice skating rink, a 9 hole golf course, wild flower and other gardens or other ideas that allow residents to enjoy the land.
This proposed housing plan is in a format known as cluster housing. As defined by our 2005 Plan of Conservation and Development, “the purpose of a cluster subdivision is to allow flexibility of design in order to preserve and protect the scenic and natural resources of land.”
In cluster housing, the homes are clustered together which “would allow the Town to protect what is important to the community while encouraging development that is compatible in character”. Preserving the majority of the property’s open spaces, hills and wooded areas “would be consistent with Woodbridge’s sense of itself as a rural community”.
This proposal addresses our financial needs, provides opportunity for recreation, preserves open space, provides much-needed housing for our seniors and does it in a way that preserves the character of Woodbridge.
I have invited Toll Brothers to present the details of their plan at a meeting in July. We will know soon if the BOS feels, as I do, that the voters should decide if this plan is right for Woodbridge.
Meanwhile, I wish you all a splendid July 4 weekend. It is certainly a time of celebration as we recall the birth of our nation and the principles on which it was founded. It is a time to remind ourselves that in all we do, including discussions about the CCW, we should demonstrate tolerance and respect for each other.
To stay up to date on this and other matters, please sign up for the Town’s email newsletter at tinyurl.com/WoodbridgeEnews. You may see a map of the new plan, and other CCW information, on our website at woodbridgect.org/CCWFuture.