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November 26. 2013 9:56PM

Conservation easement will protect seven acres of Salem land

SALEM — Selectmen have approved a conservation easement on just under seven acres of developable land at the corner of Bluff Street and Millville Road.

Earlier this month, the Conservation Commission recommended the approval of the easement on the property of Robert Banks at 115 Bluff St.

Several months ago, Banks met with town planning director Ross Moldoff about preserving his eight-acre lot. Moldoff said several years ago, Banks sought to subdivide some of the lot, but that now he wants the property to stay in its natural, undeveloped state.

Banks will continue to own the property, but there will be a conservation easement on it that prevents future development.

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.

Selectman Stephen Campbell asked Moldoff if the property connects to any other conservation land in town.

“Nothing else the town owns is in the immediate vicinity,” said Moldoff. He said there is conservation property further up Bluff Street and that the town forest is nearby, but that there is no land that abuts Banks’ property.

Campbell also asked how much money the town would be giving up in annual property taxes with the easement. Moldoff said it would be several hundred dollars per year.

While there is some wetland on the property, Moldoff said a good chunk of the acreage is developable upland.

“Mr. Banks is very interested in preserving the land in perpetuity and not having development,” said Moldoff. “Having many years of experience with property owners in this town, I can tell you that is pretty uncommon.”

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