The town of Swansea had their town meeting Monday evening at Case High School.
Voters approved a proposal to purchase a 33 acre section of land in the town for $1.3 million by a 155-2 margin. This will effectively end an effort by a New Hampshire-based firm to install solar panels on the property.
Possible school expansion discussions can now be continued following the approval of Article
33. Selectmen member Derek Heim explained why the community was exercising a right of first refusal.
“Like any successful municipal business and please understand our public school system is just that,” he said. “There are often times when investment and future vision is needed. I’m sure you’ve received mailers, social media messages and other arrays of information from a solar company - a company our community has no plans for land in question in Article 32.”
Swansea Schools Superintendent John Robidoux told the gathered the district needed the land for possible school expansion and disputed any thought of there being no plans.
“I’ve heard people say we don’t have a plan,” he said. “Well, we do have a plan. One takes the proper steps to at the right and in a way that makes the most sense. This is step one - acquiring land that will be unavailable in discussions about building a school or other municipal activities here in town.”
An attorney for the solar company appeared at Swansea town meeting and represented them in their rebuttals.
“I am their tax attorney on 12 projects,” he told the Swansea officials and residents. “Nancy Avila and the Avila family do not want to sell the property to the town at the moment out of respect to their neighbors. They chose solar. They chose something they thought would be beneficial to the town, something they would knew would bring in tax revenue.”
Swansea voters also approved a proposal to create a redevelopment authority with the priority of re-developing the Swansea Mall.
Included in the proposal is a potential 6 new liquor licenses requiring a home rule petition to be approved in the great and general court.
Selectmen member Chris Carreiro introduced the plan for this proposal on the second of the year in the first session of selectmen in 2019.