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Alternative Plan to O'Neill's Housing Proposal for the Belmont Uplands
Michael Baram, Esq.
See also an April 23, 2004 letter from Michael Baram to To Karl Haglund & Fred Paulsen:
To: Belmont Planning Board & Board of Selectmen
From: Michael Baram, 29 Ernest Rd., Belmont, MA 02478
April 12, 2004
A group of Belmont Citizens has developed an Alternative Plan to O'Neill's Housing Proposal for the Belmont Uplands. This Alternative Plan is now before you for discussion of its feasibility. I hope you will take the following matters into consideration.
Feasibility usually refers to whether something is doable. In the case of the Alternative Plan, I suggest that determining its feasibility involves answering three main questions.
1. Will the Alternative Plan Help Meet the Town's Needs and Goals?
2. Will the Alternative Plan be an Economically Reasonable Venture for O'Neill?
In this case, the Town is confronted by a developer who purchased a large parcel from A.D. Little for $21 million, segmented the parcel into two subparcels, quickly sold the Cambridge subparcel for $63 million within a year, and now seeks to maximize gain from the Belmont subparcel (the Uplands). Thus, this developer has strategically segmented his property into two subparcels for maximizing profit. However, according to U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the "whole parcel" must be taken into account when community regulation of a subparcel is contested by a developer as being excessive. Belmont should follow this "whole parcel" logic when considering whether the Alternative Plan is economically reasonable for O'Neill: i.e. it should include consideration of his $42 million gain from selling the Cambridge subparcel when evaluating whether the Alternative Plan is an economically reasonable option vis a vis the Belmont subparcel.
The Town should also consider that tax benefits would accrue to O'Neill under the Alternative Plan. By trading the Uplands site with its higher market value for the Alternative Plan site with its anticipated lower market value, O'Neill would be entitled to an income tax deduction and a reduction in capital gains tax. In addition, the federal tax code would also provide an additional significant benefit to O'Neill, namely the ability to defer paying his capital gains tax for up to three years. Consultants are available to explain the arrangements needed to trigger these tax benefits.
Given these considerations, and O'Neill's skill in profitably designing and marketing residential develpments within the parameters set by a community, it seems that the Alternative Plan outlines an economically reasonable option for this developer.
3. Will the State Provide the Site for the Alternative Plan?
To sum up, I believe that the Alternative Plan is feasible on economic, political and legal grounds. Further, it is supported by many organizations and individuals in Belmont and neighboring communities as a creative and fair compromise between competing interests.
I hope the Planning Board will endorse the Alternative Plan and appoint a working group to proceed with its implementation.
Thank you for the opportunity to make this statement.