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September 18. 2013 9:40PM

Pelham to buy 56 acres of conservation land

PELHAM — Selectmen unanimously approved the purchase of a 56.5-acre piece of conservation land on Old County Road on Tuesday night, part of decade-long process by the town to acquire nearly 1,000 acres of open space and conservation land.

The property closing is planned for Sept. 26, said Paul Gagnon, chairman of the Conservation Commission.

The 56.5 acres is part of a 70-acre farm on Old County Road. The town is looking to subdivide the parcel, leaving 13 acres that contain a farmhouse and several barns to the owners and purchasing the larger parcel as conservation land for $310,000.

With the unanimous vote by selectmen, and with no one speaking against the purchase at either Tuesday night’s public hearing or one on Sept. 3, Gagnon said the purchase is a good move by the town.

The town will be able to connect an almost 2.5-mile stretch of conservation land from the Cutter Conservation Area to Gumpus Pond. The property would have about 100 feet of frontage on Old County Road, according to Gagnon.

The land will be purchased with the money from a $3 million bond for land acquisition that the town approved nearly a decade ago.

With a purchase price of about $5,500 per acre, he said the property falls within the Conservation Commission’s target of paying under $7,000 per acre for land and will bring the town within 200 acres of its goal of acquiring 1,000 acres with the bond money.

If the purchase is approved, there will be about $1 million left from the bond for land acquisition.

“We’re making good progress, we’re about 80 percent of the way there,” said Gagnon.

Gagnon said the Conservation Commission is constantly looking at available and possible pieces of open space that could be purchased to reach that 1,000-acre goal. He said there is one other parcel the commission has its eye on but couldn’t provide any further details at this time because there is no purchase and sale agreement in place.

“We always have one other piece of property we’re working on,” Gagnon said. “We try to keep an eye to the future.”

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