A public hearing on the proposed abandonment of a paper street off of Sowams Road in Barrington was continued by the Town Council Monday night, Oct. 7, until a special meeting scheduled for Oct. 23.
In the meantime, several of the abutting property owners asked the Town Council if they might consider offers to sell some of the town-owned land to them. They were directed to the town manager.
The paper street – known as “Stella Drive” – is a right of way that runs between Oak Grove Drive and Charles Street from Sowams Road to the Palmer River.
The street abuts land owned by Femiun Mezini, who has asked for the abandonment. He would like to have the land forfeited to him so he could give it to the neighbors, according to his attorney, who said that he did not plan to sell it to them at $1 a square foot as reported previously.
"Sometimes people just want to do the right thing," he said.
Mezini reportedly plans to build a two-story Colonial house with a two-car garage on a lot at 307 Sowams Road for some elderly relatives. He said he wants to situate the home on the lot so it has the least impact on his neighbors, who also would gain land given to them. He said he can do that best with the abandonment because it avoids a zoning issue involving setback.
Mezini’s attorney described the proposal as “a win, win, win” for everybody involved: Mezini, the neighbors who get more land, and the town -- which would benefit from additional tax dollars from the home and several neighbors, who would have to pay higher taxes.
The Town Council is reluctant to part with the open space – given a $48,000 value by Tax Assessor Mike Minardi.
“Public land is very valuable,” said Town Council President June Speakman. “It is hard to come by.”
Town Councilor Bill Dewitt described the land as a public asset.
“We must make the best use of this asset,” he said. “We must figure out a way to get value from it.”
Several of the abutters disagreed on the right of way’s value; they don’t feel it has any value if the town does not plan to do something with it.
At least two abutters indicated they might be willing to pay $10,000 and $20,000 for the vacant land that abuts their properties if the Town Council abandons the land.
The Town Council decided it needs at least two more weeks to consider the abandonment.