The board voted to send the Maple Street lot to auction at a reserve, or minimum bid, of $30,000.

The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday declared a parcel of land on Maple Street as surplus property.

In a vote to auction the land — located at 321R Maple St. — at a reserve, or minimum, bid of $30,000, Selectmen Diane Langlais, David Mills and Gardner Trask voted in favor; Selectmen Dan Bennett and Bill Clark voted against.

The Maple Street parcel in question was taken by the town in 1979, according to Town Manager Steve Bartha. He explained the town began evaluating the parcel after an interested party approached Langlais regarding its availability.

After multiple departments reviewed the parcel, the town determined there was no long-term business or strategic value in maintaining it, Bartha said. Town bylaws authorize the town to sell the land by way of a public auction.

Town records show the .766-acre of land was assessed in 2017 at $24,000.

Langlais, who made the motion Tuesday night to declare the land surplus, said a reserve bid of $30,000 would account for the assessed value of the property as well as the cost of the auction, estimated at about $5,000.

The discussion on what to do with the property was tabled after an Oct. 17 board meeting, in which the board agreed on selling the land, but couldn't agree on a reserve bid price. 

"To put $100,000, I think that would price it out," Langlais said, referencing the failed motion on Oct. 17 to set the reserve bid at $100,000.

However, Tuesday's conversation went in a different direction from the one had on Oct. 17. This week, the disagreement centered on whether the land should be sent to auction.

Clark said he'd had a "change of heart" since the last discussion, and no longer was in favor of selling the property.

"It's a fascinating area for bird watching, for watching other animals ... [and] equally as beautiful as any place at Endicott Park," he said, noting its view of the College Pond area.

He also made an argument against losing more land in Danvers to developers.

"I guess the other elephant in the room, which we've all avoided talking about, is the impact of traffic on Maple Street," he said. "... Any time you exacerbate that traffic situation, it just creates more and more havok on the town."

But Trask — although he understood Clark's concerns — said he struggled with the "speculations" being made about what might be done with the property if it went to auction.

"I don't feel it's our place to quell potential development based on speculation," Trask said. "I'm not against development, reasonable development, in town. I'm not against growth in town... We're speculating that's the direction it's going."

Still, Bennett was hesitant to move forward, noting he felt there were still a lot of unknowns.

"I don't know what I don't know," he said, questioning other properties in the area, as well as the intentions of the interested party and why they didn't approach the Board of Selectmen.

Trask was able to answer a few of Bennett's questions regarding other properties in the area, and Langlais asserted she'd been as transparent as possible from the beginning of the process.

She clarified the process she went through after being approached by someone interested in the land, addressing Bennett's concerns of transparency throughout the process.

"I don't know how much more transparent I can be," she said. "When approached, I went to the town manager, I made sure I went to legal counsel... I said it was Dan Corbett that approached me."

Dan Corbett is a realtor based out of Danvers.

She then brought it to the selectmen, she said, to decide whether it was surplus land.

"That's as much as I know, and as involved as a selectmen as I should be," she said.

Trask, who agreed with Langlais on the limitations of the selectmen's authorities, said opting to not sell the property would be a lost opportunity for the town.

"[Clark is] right, it doesn't cost us anything to sit there," he said. "But I contest it does, it costs us lost opportunity in taxation."