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Imminent domain

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A once fought-over piece of land next to Buckland Park in Brighton may end up in the town's hands, after all.

Brighton officials tried unsuccessfully to buy the land between Westfall and South Winton roads several years ago to add to the then-nascent park. The property was instead purchased by Faith Temple Church with plans to build a new sanctuary, school building, senior housing, and ball fields.

Brighton initiated eminent domain proceedings on the property and the whole thing went to court. The two sides settled, with the church selling part of the land to the town and planning to move ahead with its project.

But Faith Temple recently put the 70 acres it still owns up for sale. The single parcel includes the remainder of the once-disputed property, combined with other land held by the church.

The process of developing the land was taking too long, says Kim Edlin, a pastor at Faith Temple, so church leaders decided to look for an existing building to renovate, instead. But before that can happen, Edlin says, the church needs to sell the Westfall Road property.

"We're a church," she says. "We don't have endless resources."

Several parties have expressed interest in the land, Edlin says, but no offers have yet been received.

The sale creates an opening for Brighton to pursue the property. And the town's Sustainability Oversight Committee says officials should look into purchasing and preserving the land.

"Incorporating this parcel into Buckland Park would be an outstanding opportunity to preserve a green habitat for wildlife and create a passive recreation area for town residents," the committee said in a letter to Brighton Supervisor Bill Moehle.

The site is one of the few undeveloped properties left in Brighton. Moehle says that real estate discussions are sensitive and that he can't say whether the town may try to buy the property.

"It's a very important parcel of land," he says.

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