ROCKLAND — The City Council gave preliminary approval Monday night to selling off its interest in a quarry to a man who wants to create a recreational facility for the community.

The Council voted 4-1 to issue a quit claim deed to Frederick Dodd of Sherborn, Mass. for the quarry known as the “Engine Quarry” located at 224 Old County Road for $22,600.

Dodd has attempted to purchase the property in past years but the Council has opted not to sell to anyone.

Councilor Nicole Kalloch voted against issuing the quit claim deed. She said she was contacted by someone who had an interest in bidding on the property.

Dodd’s bid is from when the city placed the property out to bid four years ago. City Manager Tom Luttrell said the city’s attorney had advised him that the city can sell it even if the bid is from an earlier bid process.

The manager said any sale agreement will require public access to the quarry and that if he sells the land that it must be available for affordable housing. Dodd owns an adjacent parcel off the Thompson Meadow Road which he purchased in 2019.

Dodd operates a business known as International Zoological Expeditions Inc. and said back in 2018 he would stop illegal dumping, clean out the quarry and make it available for those who wish to study a different and unique self-contained ecosystem. Dodd has a long history of restoring quarries. He said he would restore the Engine Quarry and open it to the public for kayaking, hiking and other recreational purposes.

The city has solicited proposals for the land on multiple occasions since 2014, but has never followed through on a sale.

The City Council last considered selling the historic Engine Quarry in May 2018. The council voted 4-1 at that meeting to reject issuing a quitclaim deed to Jake Barbour for the 14-acre parcel that includes the water-filled former limestone quarry adjacent to Old County Road.

A quit claim deed only quits the city’s interest in the property. If someone else claims an interest in the property, that will be left to other parties to settle.

A formal public hearing and final vote on the sale is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 12.

Other actions

In other action from the Council’s Sept. 12 meeting:

Councilors gave final approval to issuing a quit claim deed to Denita McWilliams for 375 Pleasant St. for $25,000.

The city became owners of the Pleasant Street property in March 2018. This property has a half acre and is assessed at $69,300. The city demolished the house that had been on the lot in 2021 because of its deteriorated condition.

The prices Rockland receives for properties are far less than their assessed value because the city only issues a quit claim deed, meaning Rockland gives up its interests in the property. Former owners could challenge the ownership issue and getting financing is more difficult because of uncertainty of ownership.

The Council also gave unanimous preliminary approval to changing 22 Highland St. from a commercial to a residential B zone.

The owner, William Bird, said in a letter to the City Council, that he wants to have the opportunity to build seven to nine townhouses on the property.

A formal public hearing and final vote will be Oct. 12.

And the Council gave unanimous preliminary approval to an ordinance to allow the city to bill private property owners if the city has to come in and cut vegetation that is overgrown and extends out onto public sidewalks or roads. The ordinance requires the city to notify the property owner and gives them 30 days to cut the vegetation.

A formal public hearing and final vote will be Oct. 12.