Grocery Store Project on Hold Pending Mediation
Tuesday, September, 8, 2020
Officials in Walden have put the plan for the construction of a grocery store in the town on hold after a lawsuit filed by citizens. A final decision about the project is expected to be reached in mediation. The decision to mediate came after questions arose regarding the conservation easements and open space near the project.
During one town meeting, Walden’s mayor and the landowner argued about the project. According to Mayor Lee Davis, “Future generations will look at us and ask ‘what in the world are you doing?’” The landowner called the mayor’s comments and changes in the plans “a disingenuous characterization.” He believes the site plans are clear and he’s asking that the Walden board approve the plans.
The mayor believes the plan submitted to the board is the type that “gets towns into deep litigation.” He says there is no indemnity for future owners regarding problems in the future and that he believes the plans as they stand now leaves Walden legally exposed. He doesn’t want the plans “crafted on the fly,” and insinuated this is exactly the case as the plan stands now.
The dispute between the mayor and the landowner is in addition to a separate lawsuit that is due to go to mediation in the coming weeks. According to that claim, two residents and another person who lives near the planned grocery store site believe the town’s ordinance passed last year allowing the project is in direct conflict with land-use and zoning restrictions. According to that lawsuit, the approval of the development is illegal.