Weston voters approved a modified lease between the town and the regarding the Lachat property.
In October, , which was slightly modified and presented before voters at a special meeting Thursday night at town hall.
According to , two modifications to the lease stemmed from both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the conservancy itself. Tracey said the zoners “made a number of suggestions to agreements we approved … intending to protect the town.”
“I think they actually made some very good recommendations,” he said, adding they were accepted and approved by the selectmen.
The second modification of the lease pertains to the “way in which the endowment would be distributed [by the conservancy] going forward.”
Tracey said under terms of the new lease, the conservancy “will have the right to increase or decrease that five percent [distribution of the endowment] in accordance with all the hundreds of millions of dollars they manage” but the “can’t take it below four percent without our right to take it away from the Nature Conservancy.”
Tracey urged residents to approve the new lease in order to “separate [the town] from the Nature Conservancy once and for all” so that the town could start figuring out what to do with the Lachat property, which is located in northern Weston on the corner of Godfrey Road West and Newtown Turnpike.
Weston resident Ginger Jespersen said she didn’t agree with language in the lease which gave the town the ability to install solar panels and irrigation technology, for example, on the property.
“I don’t think that’s the vision Leon had,” she said.
“There’s nothing in the lease that permits the town to do anything that is inconsistent with the conservation easement,” Tracey said. “There’s no change to the conservation easement since it was first issued in Leon Lachat’s time with one exception, and that is to allow farming. I don’t think you have to worry about any departure from the intent of Leon Lachat.”
reminded voters no discussion of the ultimate use of the Lachat property would occur that night.
“That is a community discussion we still have to have,” she said. “The only way anything can happen to that property is to bring it back to the town for a vote.”
Robert Turner, of Katydid Lane, said the town has violated Lachat’s wishes by failing to maintain the property.
“We should be endeavoring to preserve that structure that is there in the best position that we can and not look for ways to introduce disclaimers that say we don’t have to do it,” he said.
Weinstein respectfully disagreed.
“Under the current agreement we have, we don’t have to fix the house, we could go in and demolish it tomorrow. I guarantee you that’s not what we’re thinking about doing,” she said, adding she’s looking forward to a “robust community conversation” on how to use the property.
Weinstein said the selectmen are focused on getting Weston residents access to the property as soon as possible.
“You look at this beautiful piece of property that you purchased with your taxes,” she said, adding it’s time for residents to, for example, “walk on the land, be involved in a community farm.”
, Weston’s animal control officer, said he was part of the original deal of the Lachat property and that he supported the modifications to the lease.
“We’re not going to allow any politicians to do anything with the buildings that are against Leon’s wishes,” he said. “I’m satisfied with the agreement. I think we need to move forward. Ninety-nine percent of the town of Weston has not set foot on the property since we bought it. It’s time for us to enjoy the land.”