Avon Hall, in negotiations

Unknown party expresses serious interest in the main house, pond

Town Attorney John Bennett, the selling agent for the 12-acre Avon Hall property, has entered into negotiations with an undisclosed party who has expressed “serious” interest in the six-acre portion that includes the main house, its two rear cottages and the front acreage including the pond.

“Negotiations doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve made an offer,” the attorney said Tuesday afternoon (March 1). “I had said at the outset I would only negotiate with one party at a time. So I’m negotiating with only one party until a conclusion is reached — either it goes forward or it doesn’t, but I won’t play one party off of another. And all the parties who have expressed interest, I’ve sent them an email saying exactly that.”

Bennett said that since the property went on the open market in January, there have been several different options discussed for uses.

“The Town is currently in negotiations with a party who is seriously interested in the main house and the two rear cottages and the front acreage, including the pond. Not under negotiation is the corner parcel of half an acre adjoining Leggett Lane and the rear portion of the property consisting of approximately three acres,” the Town’s attorney John Bennett said Monday.

“And how this negotiation may or may not turn out I just really can’t say until we reach a conclusion,” Bennett said. “Because that’s what negotiation is about: What are they willing to put on paper? And what will the Town Council ultimately decide?”

If there is a written contract that amounts to an offer to buy, the Town Council must hold an advertised public hearing to decide whether or not they’ll accept it or reject it.

“And that stage hasn’t been reached yet. And so at that point they’d really decide whether it meets up with the Town’s objectives,” Bennett said, though noting that the process may be slow to unfold. “Because you know, to do a contract on something like this, with all the different things that are involved, is actually a pretty complicated process. There could be semi-public easements, like the Butterfly Trail . . . It takes a while, and doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be finished by next [Town Council] meeting, although I hope to, but just can’t count on that.”

The other critical point, Bennett said, is that he is only negotiating on the front six-acre portion of the 12-acre property, the main house and the two cottages behind it. That does not include the corner next to Leggett Lane, and it does not include the back three-acre section, where the Town has been discussing the possibility of some sort of cluster development with “workforce housing,” affordable housing for working people.

“I want to emphasize that those pieces are still available, and if anybody wants to call me, please do,” he said of the other lots that comprise the Town’s largest real estate holding.