Editorial: No for Downtown Corridor Project

contribute's picture

Merriam-Webster defines a legal taking as, “a seizure of private property or a substantial deprivation of
the right to its free use or enjoyment that is caused by government action ...” It is my opinion that
easements on private property, whether temporary or permanent, are a deprivation of the free use of
property, and are in fact, a taking.

Although town officials have notified me that an easement on my property is no longer needed for the
Main Street Corridor Project, my property is still listed on Article 47 from the 2018 Annual Town
Meeting. As a result, I am still exposed to a potential easement. Multiple attorneys have advised me that
this is a municipal plan that can change at any time and, as long as the town is authorized to take an
easement on my property via Article 47, I am at risk for having an easement.

Proponents of the current Main Street Corridor Project have argued that Main Street property owners
were notified of the potential for an easement by letters sent in 2012 and by virtue of the 2018 town
meeting warrant. First, how can proponents in good conscience claim that approximately 70 letters sent
in 2012 constitute sufficient notice for a vote that was taken nearly 5 years later in 2018 and by that
point included over 90 properties? Second, do they really believe that typing a parcel number on a town
meeting warrant is all that is needed to “notify” property owners that they will be subject to a 5 year
easement?

Other than the certified letter I received in April 2019 requesting that I donate an easement, I have
never been personally notified by the town that my property was on the Main Street Corridor Plan and
subject to an easement. I ask my fellow residents – if your property was listed by parcel identification
number only (not by name or address) on a town meeting warrant, would you consider that sufficient
notice that the town wanted an easement on your property? While the town may have followed the
letter of the law, they did not follow the spirit of Hopkinton. This project is a major undertaking and all
corridor residents and business owners should have been given the respect of personal, individual
outreach by the project proponents. By personal outreach, I mean one on one phone calls or in person
meetings, or at least letters addressed to us by name, not by “dear resident.”

Free federal money is not free. Corridor residents and businesses will pay more than other residents
with negative valuation on property, loss of business, and a substantial reduction in our quality of life
from construction fumes, debris, and disruption. These easements will have a negative effect on
property values on corridor properties for, at a minimum, the entire length of the easement period (5
years), if not permanently. Corridor property owners will not just pay for this project with their tax
dollars, we will be paying for the project in many other financial and non-financial ways.

I ask my fellow residents, if this is such a good plan, why have so many residents and business owners
rallied against the plan? Also, please put yourself in the shoes of downtown residents. Five years is a
long time to have our properties tied up by “temporary” easements, not to mention the numerous
permanent utility and other easements required by this plan.

Please attend the Special Town Meeting on Monday, December 9at 7:00 p.m. Please vote to support the
Main Street Alliance and our warrant article to stop the Main Street Corridor Project as it is currently
designed.

Sincerely,
Jackie Potenzone
12 Wood Street

**This article was written by a group or person in the Hopkinton Community and does not reflect the views of HCAM or any of their Board Members or Employees.**