Westborough Chief Assessor gives update on former Green Thumb property

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Westborough Chief Assessor gives update on former Green Thumb property
The former Green Thumb property in Westborough directly abuts Route 9. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

WESTBOROUGH – A state agricultural restriction will severely limit what the McGovern Auto Group can do with the former Green Thumb property in Westborough, unless the restriction is bought out or otherwise lifted, Westborough Chief Assessor Jonathan Steinberg told the Select Board this week.

McGovern bought the site late last year. However, the restriction remained in place as of the Select Board’s meeting on Tuesday.

“Nothing can be done other than agricultural use,” Steinberg said.

State details process of removing restriction

According to Steinberg the roughly six acre parcel at 187 Turnpike Road was initially sold to the local McGoldrick family at a discount in exchange for a permanent agricultural restriction on the property.

The restriction was passed through legislation.

Green Thumb then opened and operated for years as a familiar garden center in town.

The family eventually wanted to sell the property, however, and petitioned the state legislature to create an option to buy out the restriction, which was passed in 2018, according to Steinberg.

That legislation, Steinberg said, created a formula that included having the property appraised for both agricultural and commercial use. 

The appraisals would be reviewed by the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) and submitted to the Office of the Inspector General, who would write a report to DCAMM. The report would then go to relevant House and Senate committees.

The price of a buyout, to be paid to the state, would be the net between the two appraisals.

As Steinberg explained it, McGovern would have to pay above and beyond the $2.5 million that it already paid for the property to complete this buyout. 

Boston Lawnmower previously showed interest in property

In talking with DCAMM, Steinberg said the agency told him that it had been contacted in 2021 by a group that was trying to put this McGovern deal together. 

The group had been trying to use an appraisal used as part of a prior proposed deal with Boston Lawnmower to begin the process of removing the agricultural restriction.

In 2020, Boston Lawnmower, which is located nearby on Route 9 at 233 Turnpike Road, was interested in relocating, according to Steinberg. 

Steinberg said the company was working with the McGoldricks to buy out a portion of the property. 

That would involve changing the agricultural restriction, to leave part of the land under the restriction while converting the rest for commercial use, Steinberg said. 

Boston Lawnmower came to the town in this process, asking for its support in the change, which Town Manager Kristi Williams said the Select Board supported. 

But the deal between the McGoldricks and Boston Lawnmower fell apart. 

“I think they were far apart,” Steinberg said. “They didn’t like the numbers that came back from the appraisal. So, they were really far apart as to what [Boston Lawnmower] would have to pay the state above and beyond versus what the family wanted them to pay them.”

Westborough Chief Assessor gives update on former Green Thumb property
McGovern bought the former Green Thumb property in Westborough late last year. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

With that deal in the past, Green Thumb was recently sold to McGovern Auto Group. 

As the town explained the options for McGovern, it could now pay to remove the restriction from the whole property. 

As another option, McGovern could pursue a similar path as Boston Lawnmower and buyout a portion of the site.

DCAMM has reached out to McGovern, Steinberg said. 

Ultimately, if the restriction is bought out, the property would be bound by underlying town zoning.

According to Westborough’s zoning map, the property is located within the town’s highway business district.

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