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Town Documents Show Kraft Group Doesn’t ‘Owe’ Foxborough Money for Sewer

Does the Kraft Group owe Foxborough money for a waste water treatment facility that was never built? The short answer, according to the 2007 MOA and other town documents, is no.

Contrary to popular opinion among some Foxborough town officials, The Kraft Group does not owe the town $7.5 million – or any money for that matter – from a failed proposal involving the development of a waste water treatment facility for the town located at , according to town documents.

In 2007, the Kraft Group and the town of Foxborough successfully negotiated the development of Patriot Place and with it the town has received annual town revenue of $3 million.

However, five years and millions in revenue has not changed the perception of some town officials that The Kraft Group “owes” Foxborough $7.5 million for what they consider to be false promises of a waste water treatment facility on Route 1 as part of the 2007 agreement for 12 liquor licenses and the development of the shopping, dining and entertainment complex.

“From what I can see and from things I’ve read, I don’t think we’ve gotten the full mitigation from the original 12 liquor licenses,” said selectman Virginia Coppola at Tuesday’s meeting. “So as far as I’m concerned, I’m not interested in looking to the future and making negotiations for the future until the past negotiations have been dealt with. That’s where I stand.”

But does The Kraft Group really owe the town anything in mitigation from the 2007 agreement of Patriot Place?

In terms of the $7.5 million that was to be used to construct the waste water treatment facility in town, the short answer, according to town documents, is no.

Jeff Cournoyer, spokesman for The Kraft Group, said when the company worked in partnership with the town to develop Patriot Place it made promises to “attract world-class healthcare, lodging, dining, entertainment and shopping while adding millions annually to the town’s revenue base.”

And as seen by the $3 million annual town revenue Foxborough receives from Patriot Place, The Kraft Group has delivered on that promise.

“At the time [of the Patriot Place proposal in 2007], we projected $2 million in new tax revenue,” Cournoyer said. “In reality, Patriot Place contributes $3 million annually. Collectively, The Kraft Group and Patriot Place’s tenants currently contribute more than $6 million annually to the town’s budget.”

 As for what Coppola and other town officials keep referring to as mitigation still owed and negotiations from 2007 remaining unsettled, Cournoyer disagrees, saying The Kraft Group has kept its end of the 2007 agreement with the town and exceeded its financial expectations.

“In 2007, we committed to building a water treatment facility if the town asked us to, and at the town’s request provided a five-year window for the town to decide if it wanted the facility,” said Cournoyer. “On more than one occasion the voters chose not to go that route. The continued insistence by some town officials, disregarding the written agreement, that we should simply give Town Hall the funds we would have used to construct that facility has no legal or factual basis. More importantly, those statements contribute nothing to what otherwise could be a productive discussion between the Town and The Kraft Group about moving forward as business partners, something both sides have expressed an interest in.”

According to the 2007 Memo Of Agreement (MOA) between The Kraft Group and the town of Foxborough, the town had a five-year option – as mentioned by Cournoyer – to “expand its existing waste water treatment facility, as upgraded for the Patriot Place project.”

The town requested The Kraft Group “construct a new municipal waste water treatment facility and certain water and sewer system improvements.”

For The Kraft Group to construct such a facility, the town agreed, according to the 2007 MOA, it would have to “obtain required permits and approvals (including, without limitation, local zoning relief and such similar governmental authorizations) to construct necessary waste water infrastructure on town-owned land associated with the improvements pursuant to the terms of the agreement.”

That agreement included obtaining all required appropriation, borrowing authority and betterments to allow financing associated with the cost of such an infrastructure and provide written notice of approvals.

Once The Kraft Group received the town’s Approvals Notice it would proceed to “permit, design and construct on land under its control and at its sole cost and expense, the wastewater treatment facility.”

The project never got that far because the town never issued an Approvals Notice to The Kraft Group. Why? Because the town’s voters rejected the proposal at the June 2007 Town Meeting.

Section 8 of the 2007 MOA states The Kraft Group’s obligation to the town to build a waste water treatment facility would be terminated if the following occurred:

  • The town does not obtain all necessary zoning relief, permits and/or approvals to construct the town infrastructure associated with the improvements …
  • The town does not receive a favorable outcome from community polling by the town to allow the imposition of betterments for connection of residences to the new wastewater treatment system …

Furthermore, the 2007 MOA states The Kraft Group’s obligation in its agreement with the town is subject to “approval of Article 18, as set forth in the Foxborough Town Meeting Warrant for May 14, 2007 Annual Town Meeting at Town Meeting and the subsequent vesting in the Foxborough Board of Selectmen of the full legal authority to issue all the liquor licenses pursuant to the terms of Article 18 without amendment; the Town obtaining all required approvals and the Town issuing the Approvals Notice within five years of May 14, 2007; There not occurring a natural disaster, war or cultural strife that prevents the material commencement of construction of any buildings in the [Patriot Place project].”

While Article 18 was approved at the 2007 Town Meeting, the agreement between the town and The Kraft Group was terminated when the town did not submit the Approvals Notice to the company by May 14, 2012, as stated in Section 8, item “C” of the MOA: “In the event any of these conditions precedent set forth above do not occur, this agreement shall terminate and all obligations of the parties shall be of no further force and effect.”

Those who believe The Kraft Group still owes the town the $7.5 million scheduled to be used for the development of a waste water treatment plant may point to this statement in Article 18 of the 2007 Town Warrant Report: “Patriot Place developer will expand, build and ‘gift’ to the town a wastewater treatment facility, related water and sewer connection lines, and leaching fields allowing for much needed additional town sewer capacity as identified by the Town’s Comprehensive Wastewater Plan. The [facility] will cost the developer $7.5 million. Additionally, the developer has agreed to pay the town’s standard sewer fees after the Town assumes ownership of the wastewater treatment facility.”

Sounds like The Kraft Group does owes the town either a wastewater treatment facility or $7.5 million, afterall, right? Wrong. … Here's the other part of it, as presented at the 2007 Town Meeting.

In a statement issued by the town’s 2007 Advisory Committee under Article 18 in the Town Warrant Report, the three members who opposed the article said the following: “If taxpayers are motivated to vote ‘yes’ on this article to get the benefit of the sewer arrangement, they might be disappointed because it is contingent upon approval of other warrant articles at a Town Meeting held after this May. Put another way, the major portion of the consideration ($8.5 million) for supporting this article could prove illusory (since the town voters might not accept the sewer agreement). In such a case, Patriot Place would still be entitled to 12 liquor licenses and the town would be entitled to only the public safety mitigation and waiver of excess Patriot Place permitting fees (that is, Patriot Place will not make an $8.5 million cash payment to the town in lieu of what it would have spent on the sewer plant).”

And as it turns out, that’s precisely what happened. Article 18 passed May’s Town Meeting with a 96 percent approval rating. However, the warrant articles (5 and 6) for the waste water treatment facility were rejected by voters in the June 11, 2007 Town Meeting.

In the five years that followed, the town was never able to submit the required Approvals Notice to The Kraft Group by the May 14, 2012 deadline and the agreement was officially terminated.

One of the Ad-Com members that opposed Article 18 in 2007 was selectman Lorraine Brue, who at Tuesday’s meeting said she would favor future negotiations with The Kraft Group only after the company addressed what she believes is still owed to the town from 2007.

“[The negotiation] goes back to the $7.5 million that had been promised for waste water treatment/expansion and infrastructure at the time,” Brue said. “I feel that is still outstanding there and that’s tied to the first 12 licenses.”

But according to Ad-Com’s evaluation of Article 18 in 2007, the money will not be “gifted” to the town as a cash payment– only used to develop the waste water treatment facility.

So why are Brue, Coppola and other town officials still referring to $7.5 million as being “owed money” to the town by The Kraft Group as a result of the 2007 agreement that “fell short” of what they believe was promised to the town as a condition of 12 liquor licenses and the development of Patriot Place?

Board of Selectmen vice chair Mark Sullivan says it’s a result of perception among the townspeople.

“Whether [we] had a contract or we didn’t have a contract, perception in the town was to a higher expectation of what we would receive [a waste water treatment facility] for those 12 liquor licenses,” Sullivan said. … “It is the perception of the people in the town of Foxborough that there had been some shortfalls [in negotiations] … if somebody promises you that they’re going to do something and then you rely on that and it doesn’t happen in the end then it doesn’t pay the bills. Promises don’t pay the bills. We don’t have anything right now; we don’t even have a promise [from The Kraft Group].”

That perception Sullivan refers to, however, does not coincide with the facts presented at the 2007 Town Meeting – both in the MOA and in the Town Warrant Report, as previously mentioned.

Selectman Lynda Walsh referred to those same facts Tuesday.

“Folks need to realize that we do go to Town Meeting and it comes down to the vote of the people,” Walsh said. “Just as we did back in 2007 when we as a town decided we did not want a water treatment plant and we didn’t want to accept that at all. We had several years until this year and we kept getting closer to that deadline saying ‘we need to be talking about this' and 'what are we going to do here’ and then the deadline came on May 14, 2012 and we decided we didn’t take [The Kraft Organization] up on the water treatment plant [offer].”

Walsh said while she isn’t defending The Kraft Group, she believes Foxborough isn’t owed $7.5 million and for the town to think otherwise is a waste of time.

“We had an opportunity to have a waste treatment plant up there, we just decided not to. Call it what it is.”

Another reason some town officials are caught up on the $7.5 million from the 2007 negotiations is because Foxborough needs that amount of funding to join the tri-town waste water treatment facility project with Norton and Mansfield.

The Kraft Group has said it is open to negotiating some type of agreement involving the $7.5 million needed for expansion in the town's sewer capacity if the town will acquire eight additional liquor licenses from the state to further develop Patriot Place.

Both The Kraft Group and the town showed a willingness to sit down at the table this summer and move forward as business partners.

During public negotiations last month between The Kraft Group and the town’s four-member public advisory committee, Kraft representatives shared some of its ideas for possible expansion along Route 1 and at Patriot Place. Potential plans include a bowling alley with an entertainment license – similar to Kings in Dedham, a Mexican restaurant and a Japanese hibachi steakhouse at Patriot Place while potential development along Route 1 would include 300 units of multi-family housing, which would require zoning changes, a train station at Gillette Stadium and a new hotel.

On Tuesday, the Board of Selectmen received an update on the status of those public negotiations from Walsh, who is a member of the public advisory committee and , the board requested and Patriot Place expansion before any negotiations involving liquor licenses and $7.5 million begin.

In the meantime, the Foxborough Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners will meet Monday, Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. in the Water Department Office to discuss in executive session The Kraft Group’s billboard sign proposal and is expected to open to the public and continue review The Kraft Group’s billboard sign proposal with Town Manager Kevin Paicos and Town Counsel Richard Gelerman.

Bob O'Rourke September 07, 2012 at 12:15 PM
THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE SELECTMEN AND WATER AND SEWER MEMBERS THINK THEY ARE AS INTELLIGENT AS BOB KRAFT'S SLEW OF ATTORNEYS, THAT IS WHY THEY CALL HIM KRAFTY BOB. HOPEFULLY THE CURRENT SELECTMEN REALIZE THIS AND WILL HIRE BETTER ATTORNEYS (AT KRAFT’S COST) TO NEGOTIATE THE NEXT DEAL (IN WRITING) SO THE TOWN CAN GAIN SOMETHING FROM THIS ROUND OF GRANTING LIQUOR LICENSES INSTEAD OF AN UNENFORCEABLE VERBAL MAYBE!
Steve September 07, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Oh my God, thank you Jeremie for putting it all down on “paper” for everybody to read and realize!! I was at that 2007 town meeting and that is exactly how I remembered it. That is why it was so shocking and disappointing to hear town officials, like Ms. Brue, go on, year after year, making these false claims against the Kraft Org. Let’s face it; we screwed up this deal not the Kraft Org., and instead of swallowing our pride and going back for some other kind of compensation we had town officials puffing out their chests and making demands!!! Not the best way to get something when legally we are owed nothing. Some may argue that “morally” the town is owed something in lue of the Wastewater treatment plant not being built but that is neither here nor there….that shipped sailed a long time ago when the majority of the BOS decided it was best to “take on” Kraft and bully him into giving us $7.5 million dollars instead of being neighborly and coming to some sort of arrangement. But that is our town and I’m sure “certain” town officials will continue to “spin” this story until people start to forget the facts again…
Steve September 07, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Robert, there were no "maybe's" in this deal. It was pointed out plain and simple if the town voted down the wastewater treatment plan it got nothing. I remeber it plainly. I could not understand, at the time, why the town voted against it. I nnow realize that we were urged to vote against it because it would have thrown a monkey wrench into this tri-town sewerage deal that town officials seem to perfer.
Deborah A Stewart September 07, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Seriously Robert, seriously! What role does the BOS play in all this? Past and current! Did you not read this whole article? One does not need a law degree to understand the exact language in the agreement. The KO would have been held accountable IF the town had agreed to the sewer proposed at Town Mtg. That did not happen. The language is very clear....the Kraft Org does not OWE us anything....period. Also Mr Sullivan's belief that the resident think that the Kraft Org "owes" us this money is just plain wrong. Not sure who Mr Sullivan is speaking to these days but many of us, including many who got him re-elected do not believe that. Time for those in a position of power here need to move forward, this is not a fairytale we are living where some nice fairy godfather is going to fly in and just give us the money as a "gift". Time for those on the BOS to move forward, look to the future for ways to work with the Kraft's and get back to a more open communication for the benefit of both sides.
Deborah A Stewart September 07, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Steve, God Bless you! Another sane resident who sees the forest for the trees here. I hope that you as will I and many others, will continue to call out what is really happening up at TH. I have lost respect for many who prefer to whisper behind closed doors about the disfunction that is present up on South St only because they are afraid of the ramifications if they openly speak about what they "see and hear" from a up close seat. Thanks so much to Jeremie for a very clear, honest and open article. Nice for once to have a complete media report that one can read and know it is "not" tainted. Keep up the great work! Perhaps your reporting will make people feel comfortable to come forward and speak up themselves.
Janet Kennedy September 07, 2012 at 07:45 PM
I agree Deb. I think t that some of the select people need to read things first before saying things . I hear a lot and people all said Foxboro had 5 years to figure it out and the town did blow it. Its like trying to redeem a coupon that is out of date.
Traci Longa September 07, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Thank you Jeremie for reporting the facts! I've been reading these documents over the last week and you are spot on!! I really hope this helps put all of this back to 2007 where it belongs and proceed to deal with the current issues. Kraft is looking to develop Route 1 which will only help this town financially. It doesn't cost us a thing to give them LL's so let's get into some serious, unbiased discussions with them and look at all the details.
Janet Kennedy September 08, 2012 at 01:12 AM
I agree Traci. We need to hear what they want on route 1. Plus when they come to the meeting give out handouts to everyone not just the BOS. I do hope the special interest group hears the information first before they react. Also if any BOS has any connection with that group they should excuse themselves from hearing .
Ken B. September 10, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Jeremie does a nice job laying out the history. Mark Sullivan is spot-on about "perception." I don't disagree much with the posts in response, but what I am curious to know is, Why is it (or does it appear so ?) that Sewer & Water gets a pass on all of this ? Their 1st attempt in 2007 failed miserably, and they had five years to get it right. Leaving $7.5 mil on the table doesn't cut it.
Deborah A Stewart September 10, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Ken B., I think part of the issue here is that Mr Henderson and the W & S board at the time tried very, very hard to get the info out to the residents for the Town Mtg vote. It was voted down, imho, because the cost to the residents was just too great an amount. I felt at the time that the presentation and information we were given was appropriate but for us, the cost was just not feasible because we have a working system right now. Perhaps IF the cost per resident was lower it would have passed at that time. However, that being said right now there is an opinion by one W & S member that there will be no discussions with the Kraft Org. until they show us the money! This is a bad attitude/opinion to hold as a member of 3 person board. No open mind, no willingness to even listen, I know for me, I will not be voting for this member if he runs again. It is my hope that Mr Eurlie will not step down and he will soon regain control of his board and meet with the Kraft's and other boards......because the clock is ticking.
Ken B. September 10, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Agree with you that the cost issue is why it failed in 2007. What remains though, is why W&S did nothing in the 5 years after that ? The terms to get that funding from the KO were pretty clear. Making it contingent on town meeting approval was a mistake by the patriot place negotiating comittee.
Jane Street September 10, 2012 at 10:52 PM
As I recall, it would cost certain residents a large amount -$18,000 (?) if the sewer line went down their street, and then more if they connected. It wouldn't be a town-wide expense even through it would indirectly benefit the whole town. Someone who had just put in a $20,000 sceptic system would really lose out. We sure need sewer, and we may have to reconcile ourselves to higher taxes. Would be nice if Kraft could help through....the bowling alley and restaurents sound good...train line sounds good...affordable housing is good....
Deborah A Stewart September 10, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Ken B, the W & S have open meetings, for the most part anyway. I am not exactly sure when the next meeting is being held but if you go onto Facebook and search Foxboro Biz, Shannon will post info about all the mtgs, their agendas and after the meeting a run down of what was discussed. She provides many of us who might be away or unable to make the mtgs because of the times......4pm, not many can make those meetings, a valuable service. She is also looking to tape the meetings and then get them on FCA or some other media outlet. Check it out.
Ken B. September 11, 2012 at 01:04 AM
That will help going forward, thanks Deb. I'm up to date on what the situation is now. I was hoping for an explanation from somebody why W&S did nothing for 5 years after it failed TM in 2007.
Ken B. September 11, 2012 at 01:17 AM
If there's already increased police calls due to a new venue that has 13 alcohol licences, won't that go up if you increase those licenses by 63% adding 8 more ? There is definitely a cost to do that, whether you hire more officers or reduce their presence around town to cover PP.
Steve September 11, 2012 at 12:34 PM
there have been several sewerage proposals put forth in the last several years. Was the $18,000 betterment cost associated with RTE 1 or the Mansfield/Norton line? I can't remember. My recolation was that this RTE 1 plan failed because there was so much pressure to expand with Mansfield and Norton, not because of the betterment costs. Jane, you write that we "sure need sewer".....do we?? If so who needs sewer?? Don't think we need sewer expansion just because "they" say we do.
Jane Street September 11, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Steve, good point. I'm not sure everyone needs sewer. Right now my septic system works fine for me. But I think parts of the town either to expand - I think you maybe can't convert the old fire-station into a restaurant do to lack of sewer. Which may help preserve our rural character. I think in some areas there may be contamination due to inadequate septic. But, you are right, I'm not sure.
Steve September 11, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I'm pretty sure most of the residents that are not on sewerage now do NOT need sewer expansion. The explaination I have heard about why we "need" to expand sewer is to revitalize down town.....great, find come up with a creative solution, paid for by those that will benefit, and expand sewer. That is the way responsible people spend their money, government should work the same way. They will never get a sewer expansion passed at town meeting that is funded by people that do not want or need it. How many businesses do they think Foxboro can support?? We just had a huge expansion at Patriot Place and opened Chestnut Green.....How are they going to attract businesses to down town Fozboro now?
Steve September 11, 2012 at 03:45 PM
In all actuallity, the RTE1 water sewer treatment plant should have gone through. It's RTE 1 that WILL see growth in the future, not down town.
Ken B. September 15, 2012 at 02:33 AM
So apparently, W&S decided during that 5 years that Mansfield was the way to go. Kraft balked because in all likelyhood, he would have built a plant "valued at $7.5 mill" on the cheap, as opposed to forking over $7.5 mill to the town to go the Mansfield route.

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