According to the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs in a conversation I had yesterday, they are moving swiftly to retain an appraiser and expect to complete an appraisal in early April.
Several people have been in touch with me offering arguments as to why the site may be expensive to build on and so less valuable for building purposes. These reasons include:
- Possibility that the site includes peat or fill that will need to removed and replaced before construction.
- Possibility that the exercise of replacing the subsurface material will require staging area and support structures too massive to fit within the footprint of the site (excluding protected wetlands), forcing a smaller construction size.
- Possibility that there are some hazardous materials on the site which will increase the costs of disposal and replacement of the soils on the site.
- Possibility that flood insurance on the site may be very costly.
I have communicated these thoughts to EoEEA by making them aware of this web posting. I do not anticipate that the appraiser will wish to specifically speak with either the developer or with opponents of the development in conducting the appraisal. If the appraiser starts communicating privately with people with an interest either way in the site then the integrity of the process may be questioned — it will be hard to know whether all perspectives have been adequately heard. I think that rather than seeking to influence the outcome of the appraisal, we all need to trust to the appraiser’s professionalism and due diligence.
We should not be too concerned with the exact outcome of the appraisal. It is at best a ballpark estimate — the market value uncertainties on a unique property like the forest are much greater than the technical uncertainties that people have been communicating to me about. Ultimately what matters is not the appraisal, but whether the developer wishes to sell the property and at what price. The appraisal is only a starting point for a conversation.