The School Building Committee (SBC) was able to build momentum for the construction of a second middle school on land on Gile Road at the Annual Town Meeting, where their three major articles were approved.

However, given the closeness of two of the votes and heavy opposition from the nearby residents of H.O.M.E. Inc. senior housing, the way forward will likely be filled with many complexities.

The SBC won approval on the conservation land swap article, another article allowing the Select Board to use eminent domain to take the land, and a new budget of $275,000 for its continued work.

Both land issues were hotly contested and narrowly won the needed two-thirds vote needed for passage, with residents split on the issue of locating the school on what is land that includes what had been set aside as conservation land.

The vote approving the land swap passed with exactly two-thirds of the vote, while the eminent domain article did slightly better with a vote of 165 to 72.

The budget for the SBC proved far less controversial as most Town Meeting members recognized the need to address the overcrowding in Milton’s six existing schools.

A story about the land swap debate at the meeting can be found in the May 11 edition of the Milton Times.

Select Board Chair Mike Zullas said the eminent domain article allows the town to take possession of the 2.8 acres of conservation land and 4.4 acres of parks land that it already owns, essentially taking the property from itself.

This arose from the advice of Town Counsel Kevin Freytag, who said it would put the town in the best legal position to protect its interests by clearing the title on the property, Zullas said.

Zullas said the situation is “unique” but not unheard of.

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