Wilton’s Frye Farm easement wording discussed

WILTON – The Board of Selectmen and Ian McSweeney, of the Russell Foundation in New Boston, spent more than an hour on April 21 discussing the wording of the conservation easement to be placed on more than 100 acres of the Frye Farm on Abbott Hill in Wilton.

A contribution of $80,000 toward the easement was voted at Town Meeting in March. The town of Wilton will hold executor rights to the property. Yggdrasil Land Trust and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are the primary holders and the enforcers of the easement.

McSweeny said the wording was being compiled with quotes from the town’s Master Plan plus comments from the Conservation Commission and whatever the selectmen added.

Selectman Bill Condra and Conservation Commission member Alan Preston said copies of the proposed wording should have been available prior to Town Meeting. Condra noted that only “8 percent of the town’s voters approved the article,” but agreed residents could have attended if they had chosen to.

The easement limits activity on the land to agriculture, forestry, educational activities and passive recreation. Access by the local snowmobile club is covered in a separate section. Since “passive recreation” means nonmotorized foot traffic, bicycling and horseback riding were added. The existing snowmobile trails are already considered “multi-use.” Fishing will be permitted, hunting will not because of the adjoining school.

It is expected that the property will eventually be purchased by High Mowing Waldorf School. The landowner is responsible for any buildings on the property, which are restricted in use, size and location, and all “viewsheds” are protected by the easement. The existing fields will continue to be used for growing hay. The 28 pages of the draft will be sent to town counsel for review before it is accepted by the selectmen.

In other business, in response to a letter from a former resident, Condra said, under state statute, the selectmen have the right to change the name of a position as they see fit.

Statutes state the road agent may care for cemeteries, parks and recreation, and waste collection. However, he added, care of the cemeteries should have been a town vote and he has, so far, not found that vote, although the road agent has been in charge for decades. Condra proposed they create a “housekeeping article” for the next town meeting to clarify the duties of the position.

Selectmen also voted to accept a proposal from Lyndeborough to repay the $144,000 owed due to a state error in three installments over the next year with interest at 2 percent.