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BELMONT, MA-The building moratorium this town placed on a 16-acre parcel here off Route 2 nearly a year and a half ago will expire at the end of the month leaving the future of the land–mostly forests and wetlands–uncertain.

The moratorium was designed to allow the town time to decide how to best zone the property. Arthur D. Little was selling the adjacent property and the site’s owner, O’Neill Properties, had expressed interest in developing the land.

And a local official tells GlobeSt.com that an existing draft agreement “outlines proposed zoning that would support what O’Neill is looking to do.” The property is now zoned for residential development, but the proposed agreement with O’Neill reportedly calls for construction of a 242,500-sf building for offices and research and development, along with a parking garage. Under the plan, 8.6 of the 16 acres would be preserved as open space. In addition, the developer would pay $375,000 toward affordable housing here and $114,000 toward improving the sewer system, spend $1 million on off-site road improvements, and sign a 40-year agreement that would guarantee tax revenues to the town even if a nonprofit organization were to purchase the complex.

The official notes that the town, about nine miles Northwest of Downtown Boston, has also been considering purchasing the property from O’Neill but coming up with the funds is proving difficult. The estimated cost to purchase the land has ranged from eight million dollars to $12 million.

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