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Salem landowner says he's subdivided enough, wants land protected

SALEM — Most property owners with buildable land don't make the choice to keep their property in a natural state.

But Robert Banks, the owner of about eight acres of land at the intersection of Bluff and Millville roads is working with the town to keep a good chunk of his property as conservation land.

Last week, the Conservation Commission unanimously approved placing a conservation easement on about seven acres of that property. The easement request will now proceed to selectmen for a final approval.
"Mr. Banks came in to see me a couple of months ago and said he would like to preserve approximately eight acres of land he has," said Ross Moldoff, the town's planning director. "Several years ago, he subdivided out some lots, but he decided that he did not want to do that anymore and that he wanted the land to stay in its natural, undeveloped state."
Moldoff said Banks' request is not one that happens all that often.

"It is just not that frequent that you have someone who says they want to preserve land instead of developing it," said Moldoff.

Most of the land is upland and developable, but there is a small brook running near the Millville Road side of the property, according to Moldoff.
Moldoff said town attorneys are close to finalizing a draft of the conservation easement between Banks and the town.

There is a house on the property, and the house and surrounding yard will not be subject to the easement. Moldoff said this is being done in case Banks or a future owner wishes to add a pool, deck or shed onto the property.
That area totals about three-quarters of an acre, according to Moldoff.

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