We wish to thank Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito for awarding The Mill Farm Initiative $250,000 to plan and permit the Breach. We look forward to the resolution of this Public Safety Hazard and the creation of Wetlands. These efforts will bring the Natural Habitat back for the benefit of Wildlife and help clean the water flowing through White’s Mill and in our Neighbor’s backyards.
Your tax dollars coming home. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts promotes these programs to benefit the Environment, increase Water Quality and for Public Safety. There are more announcements to come.
We received notice from the Office of Dam Safety to "repair or breach the dam" within one month of purchasing White’s Mill, as the Mill Owner before us had received since 1980. There are multiple issues to consider when breaching the Dam. It is Classified as a “High Hazard” Dam, “Likely to cause loss of Life and Property” by the Department of Dam Safety. We worked with USDA for two years to repair the Dam and become a Water District for the benefit of the Town. An Aquifer is on the property. It was located and tested by the Town in the 1990’s. The Town has been seeking a water supply since the 1700’s. Work on the Aquifer will begin in the fourth quarter of 2021 to supply the Project. On March 9, 2017, The Mill Farm Initiative Incorporated sought permission from the Department of Dam Safety to breach White's Mill Pond Dam. This permission was granted after extensive conversations on how to economically save the structure and reduce the pollution in White’s Mill Pond. The Pond is classified as a Category 4 on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 303D List. Although there is no activity on White’s Mill Pond, it is downstream from Lake Monomonac , which is listed as a Category 5. The invasive plants can not live in a flowing River. The Wetlands will be place in Conservation Restriction and a Maintenance Reserve created to ensure the continued compliance with Wetlands Regulation. We are required to monitor and maintain the Wetlands for five (5) years by Federal and State permits.
This Ecological Restoration Project has been approved by Massachusetts Historic Commission, Army Corps of Engineers, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Office of Dam Safety. We are grateful for the opportunity to play a role in the restoration of the Historic North Branch, the Headwaters of the Miller's River. We expect work to begin in September 2021.
On July 14, 2014, the previous owner was notified of an oil sheen in the river by a neighbor alerting the Fire Department. On August 21, 2014, the previous owner was notified by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection through issuance of a "Notice of Responsibility" to Mil-Win, Incorporated that the site was Classified as Tier I and emergency cleanup began.
The site was abandoned after the initial cleanup and it was purchased on April 8, 2015 with the assumption of the remaining cleanup. Mill Farm removed 1500 tons of Contaminated Soil and the site has been released as a Tier II. The test wells were installed and completion of the project will come in January 2021 by SUMCO.
The Spill is lubrication oil from historical use of the Water Power that was the lifeblood of the Winchendon Springs Community. The incident will not restrict use or cause "areas of limited use". The chemicals in present day lubricants were not used in the 1860's, but any contaminants are too many in a pure water supply. The cleanup will benefit the entire Community, economically and recreationally. It will restore a historic treasure to the Community and return that building to a structure that houses productive, sustainable, agricultural and economic development for the Community.
In April, 2015 the property was granted tax deferment, by the Town, in order to facilitate the purchase of White's Mill. Brandywine Farms, Incorporated started negotiations with the Town before the purchase based on the Brownfield Tax Abatement By-law and a draft agreement was issued in March of 2017. To date, the cleanup costs to the The Mill Farm Initiative, Inc. have totaled more than $300,000. The Agreement is being negotiated with the Town by Mirick, O’Connell, DeMallie & Lougee, LLP.
ARTICLE 27 BROWNFIELD TAX ABATEMENT Brownfield Tax Abatement Agreements
SECTION 27.1: The purpose of this by-law is to encourage the clean-up and redevelopment of contaminated industrial or commercial sites or portions of sites by providing a method by which the Town of Winchendon may enter into tax abatement agreements pursuant to MGL Chapter 59 Section 59A and this by-law.
SECTION 27.2: Property which may be the subject of a tax abatement agreement pursuant to this by-law must: (a) be a site or portion of a site from or at which there has been a release of oil or hazardous material; and (b) be owned by an eligible person, as that term is defined in MGL Chapter 21E section 2; and (c) be zoned for commercial or industrial use.
SECTION 27.3: The Town Manager, or the Director of Planning and Development with the Town Manager’s approval, are authorized to negotiate agreements providing for the abatement of real estate taxes with owners of eligible properties.
SECTION 27.4: The agreement must specify all details regarding payment of any outstanding taxes, interest or penalties including the amount owed, the rate of interest to accrue if any, the amount of monthly payments, the payment schedule, late penalties and all other terms and conditions agreed to by the town and the property owner. As part of the agreement the property owner must provide a detailed statement and supporting evidence that demonstrates there is adequate financing available to accomplish clean-up of the contamination or hazardous materials, and that the reduction in outstanding taxes, interest or penalties is reasonably necessary to complete the clean-up. The agreement may allow for reductions in outstanding real-estate taxes, interest and penalties, or full or partial payments therefore, and such other terms and conditions as the town deems reasonable and necessary to ensure the timely clean-up and redevelopment of the parcel or portion thereof.
SECTION 27.5: The Board of Selectmen may approve, by majority vote, a tax abatement agreement where the total value of the abated taxes, penalties and interest is less than $100,000. If the total value of the tax abatement is $100,000 or more, then town meeting must approve the agreement by majority vote.
SECTION 27.6: The tax abatement agreement must be signed by the chairman of the Board of Selectmen and the property owner, and their signatures notarized, and the agreement attested to by the Town Clerk. Copies must be provided to the Massachusetts Commissioner of Revenue, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the property owner, the Board of Selectmen, the Town Manager, Town Clerk, Town Assessor, Town Collector, and Planning Board.