Southborough has option to purchase nearly 18 acres of open space

Above: The 18 acres lies between Deerfoot and Clifford Roads (via Google Maps)

A developer wants to convert nearly 18 acres of vacant land that was once part of Deerfoot Farms into a residential housing development, but before he can, the town gets to decide whether it — or someone it designates — wants to purchase the property instead.

The parcel in question is a wooded area nestled between Deerfoot and Clifford Roads — part of the old Allen farm for you old-timers. Portions of the original farm have already been developed, but an 18-acre chunk remains vacant.

The land has a special designation under the state’s Chapter 61a regulations that grants tax breaks for agricultural land. If the land owners want to sell the property or change its use, they have to take it out of Chapter 61a and pay five years in rollback taxes. They also have to give the town the option to purchase the land first.

The land owners, Lauredo Realty Trust, have an offer from developer Robert Moss of Moss Development, Inc. for $1.2M. If the town wants to buy the land, they have to match that price. The town also has the option of assigning their right-of-first-refusal on the land to a third-party like a land conservation group.

Selectman Bill Boland said at a meeting last week that while they’re always looking for ways to preserve open space, the town’s “limited financial situation” would make it difficult to come up with the $1.2M purchase price. He said he would support assigning the town’s rights to a conservation group if there was one that was interested.

Betty Meyer, a trustee of the Southborough Open Land Foundation told selectmen SOLF doesn’t want the option. “At this point we don’t have an interest in buying the land,” Meyer said. “We don’t have the money and it’s not a priority for us.”

Other local land conservation groups include the Sudbury Valley Trustees and The Trustees of Reservations, which manages Chestnut Hill Farm.

Boland said he wants input from open space groups in town on how important preserving the Deerfoot Road property is or isn’t. “We need the latest list of priority open space,” he said. “My understanding is this property isn’t at the top of the list to retain as open space.”

Selectman John Rooney said he would also like to talk to the land owner and potential developer. Town Assessor Paul Cibelli told selectmen a smaller adjacent parcel of about four acres is also on the market.

The town or its designee has 120 days to enter into a purchase and sale agreement if it wants to preserve the land.

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C. Wiggum
12 years ago

Can we please just develop the land already and put something useful there? Just a question.

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