WESTFORD -- Nancy Morton, of Tyngsboro, said all she wanted to do was open a new business in town to sell organic, fresh goods while helping people with intellectual disabilities.
The controversy surrounding a giant compost heap in the back of her newly-leased land has been entirely brewed out of a misunderstanding, she says.
"Everybody's talking about it," Morton told The Sun.
Morton is the new "indefinite" lessee of the "former" Drew Garden and Wildbird Center. She now plans to open officially Friday under the new name, CNS Mustard Seed. She finalized a deal with landowners Tom and David Goddard last week, but compost materials continue to be brought in to the site. She said residents also dump their compost there and stresses commercial dumping has nothing to do with her new operation.
"I want to bring back the greenhouses," she said. "I want to bring back the blueberry bushes and the strawberry patches. I want to revive the land."
Morton said she wants to offer therapeutic gardening to children and adults on the autism spectrum while also operating a gardening business with a small café that sells fair-trade coffee.
A giant heap of composting material so large the town has issued a cease and desist order to the Goddards made Morton's grand opening "the talk" of Westford. She now worries people will mistake what she's trying to accomplish.
The Board of Selectmen voted to issue the cease and desist order, 4-0 Tuesday, with Selectman Don Siriani absent. The board also took steps to launch a "Drew Garden Task Force" to evaluate the possibility of the town acquiring that site off Boston Road.
The town has a right of first refusal on the property, and could match any offer that comes to the Goddards for sale. Morton said that could affect her long-term plans.
Town Manager Jodi Ross said she is in talks with the Tom Goddard's attorney regarding both issues. Tuesday was the first time selectmen learned Morton is leasing the property. And it's still unclear why the large amount of compost appeared this month.
"We don't know the terms of (the lease)," Ross added after the meeting. "We just need to make sure that if the town purchases the land, we aren't tied to a lease."
Selectmen requested Morton provide a copy of her agreement with Drew Garden. They said they will look into the Westford Police Department investigating residents dumping compost at the property as well.
Resident Emily Teller drafted the town's agricultural-preservation restrictions in the 1990s on the property and said the residents may be looking to have more "control" over that area.
She called the site "the gateway" to the town. Teller and Morton spoke at length after a meeting Tuesday night.
Ross said she has received a lot of interest from residents regarding this and so far, 29 people have requested to join the task force.
Selectmen indicated Tuesday they would like to form a task force with five residents and four town officials, plus two residents as alternates. Selectmen will discuss the matter further at their next meeting.
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