BARRE – Two key documents needed to advance a private developer's plans for City Place have yet to be approved and will be modified by Mayor Thomas Lauzon and circulated to the City Council by Friday.
Acting out of what he characterized as an abundance of caution, Lauzon urged the council not to authorize City Manager Steve Mackenzie to execute the documents, which involve the city's unexpected role in a complex series of land transactions later this month. Those transactions will pave the way for a massive downtown redevelopment project that will be built directly across North Main Street from Depot Square.
This week Lauzon said he believed two of the draft documents presented to the council for its consideration need work and he wasn't prepared to authorize Mackenzie to sign either of them.
“I'm not there yet,” he said Tuesday night.
According to Lauzon, neither document – both of which involve the city's plan to purchase and temporarily hold a commercial property on Merchant Street that is vital to the City Place project – is in its “final and appropriate form.” He argued the council should have an opportunity to thoroughly review the final documents before authorizing Mackenzie to sign them.
Mackenzie wondered whether that was necessary. He said Lauzon has and will continue to play an active role in drafting the documents and worried that any last-minute “wordsmithing” by the council could be problematic given uncertainty about the timing of a closing date. The closing, he said, has slid once, is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 28, but could happen sooner.
Lauzon said he wasn't proposing a potentially deal-breaking delay and vowed the council would move swiftly – warning an emergency meeting on four hours notice if need be – to accommodate all of the parties involved in a $1.3 million transaction that will require three cross-collateralized properties to change hands simultaneously.
“We're not going to hold anyone up,” he said.
Though the seller – CDW Properties LLC – is the same the three buyers are all different and the fact that the city will be one of them requires an extra level of vigilance on the part of the council, Lauzon said.
For the complete story, see Thursday's Times Argus.
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