Preserving Woodmont Orchards

LYNDEBOROUGH – The Conservation Commission has voted to use up to $30,000 of its Land Acquisitions Fund toward the purchase of an agricultural easement on the former Woodmont Orchards at Perham Corner.

They are hoping to cover that cost through private contributions and a fund will be set up to accept donations once all of the arrangements are in place.

A public hearing on the plan was held on Thursday, Feb. 12, attended by three residents.

They plan to meet with the Board of Selectmen on Feb. 18.

Ian McSweeney of the Russell Foundation attended to explain the project.

The assessed value of the property, all of the farm except five acres around the buildings, is $560,000.

The asking price for the easement is $420,000, the difference being a donation from the owner. Of that amount, $280,000, would be provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its National Resource Conservation Service, farm and ranchland protection program.

The preservation effort is being coordinated by the Russell Foundation in New Boston, which would provide up to $60,000 as well as seeking other grants, permits, and conducting fundraising.

McSweeney said he had a list of potential grants and donors. With the commission money he had matching funds for some grants.

The easement would keep the property forever from being developed, protecting the view from the top of Parker’s Hill on Center Road, a wide view of the Souhegan Valley toward Milford.

Only agricultural buildings such as greenhouses and barns could be built and then only on 2 percent of the property as determined by the Planning Board.

The land would remain open for passive recreation such as hiking, hunting, and fishing, restricted by harvest or planting times.

The landowners can, at their discretion, allow snowmobiles or other uses.