Farmland Preservation – CONWAY SPECIAL TOWN MEETING – September 27, 2011

Update: Conway  voters approved both CPA purchases at the Special town meeting on September 27th.

Thanks to all who worked to spread the word and bring out a record number of citizens to vote on this important issue.

Sept 3, 2011
Two recommendations to preserve important farmland will be decided by Conway voters at a Special Town Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 27th
at the Grammar School at 7 pm. The first proposal is 7.3 acres along the South River, now rented by Natural Roots. The second is 199 acres of the Totman Farm on the east side of Bardwell’s Ferry Road.

© Michele Turre, 2011

The recommendations of the Community Preservation Committee apply $170,750 $76,750 (new lower amount- the state has agreed to put in a larger share) in the Town’s existing Community Preservation Fund to purchase development rights so that the land will stay as agricultural and open space, and cannot be used for new housing or other building. State agricultural preservation funds and private donations will finance most of the costs. These properties will remain in private hands, owned by the farmers.

A pre-town meeting Public Information Session & Dessert Potluck will be held the previous Tuesday, Sept. 20th at the Grammar School at 7 pm. Richard Hubbard, Executive Director of the Franklin Land Trust and others will explain the proposals in detail with significant time for questions and answers.

David Fisher harrows a fallow field at the Natural Roots Farm in Conway with the aid of Tim, Pat, Lady and Gus. © Paul Franz, 2011
© Paul Franz, 2011

No new taxes are needed to preserve these priority farmlands. The Community Preservation Fund is a dedicated, special fund which has accumulated monies only used for open space, historic preservation and housing. These are the first CPA open space projects in Conway since the act was adopted by voters in 2004. The Community Preservation Committee (CPC) has been evaluating the merits and methods to preserve remaining undeveloped portions of the former Hertzig Farm on Shelburne Falls Road for over a year. Purchase and sale agreements between owners of this property and the Franklin Land Trust have already been extended and now expire Sept. 30th — thus the need for town action this month. If the CPA recommendations are not approved by Town Meeting, it is likely that additional houses will be built on these pastures which are critical to Natural Roots CSA (community supported agriculture) Farm.

In addition to vital farm value, both the Totman and Natural Roots farms hold significant scenic value for the town. They are a vital part of the rural character that townspeople have prioritized in numerous surveys. Being adjacent to the South River, these measures will also help protect important natural resources.

Anyone with questions is urged to contact CPC chair Janet Chayes anytime at 369-4697 or janetatchayes.org.

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