NFA Preservation Of Cherry Grove Farm Appears To Be A Done Deal
Spared from potential development is a swath of meadow, streams, and wooded land at Cherry Grove Farm.
Developer Greg Carnrick of GRC Construction LLC is confident this week in going through with a sale of a portion of former Cherry Grove Farm to Newtown Forest Association (NFA). A private land trust, NFA aims to preserve the parcel from development. The Planning and Zoning Commission recently approved Mr Carnrick's application, which will ultimately sell land to the NFA for $600,000.
While the NFA website and previous information indicates "The terms of agreement allow the NFA to purchase 30 acres of farmland for $600,000," NFA Vice President Bart Smith clarified on March 20 that "approximately 13 acres … are being put into NFA's name per zoning regulations." Normally those acres would be set aside as town open space by the developer.ÃÂ NFA is purchasing the balance of approximately 17 acres.
"These 17 acres could have potentially been developed into seven building lots," Mr Smith said. The NFA purchase will contribute to the preservation of 30 acres.
"P&Z was fantastic and understanding and they approved it, they saw the benefit to the residents, I think," Mr Carnrick said.
He has been working with Mr Smith to preserve the idyllic farmland. He and NFA have negotiated for NFA to make the purchase, made possible through fundraising since early December 2017.
"The first time I met Bart he said that the preservation of Cherry Grove Farm was a top priority for the Newtown Forest Association. It will be a great day for the town residents when the property is officially delivered to them," Mr Carnrisk said.
Following the March 15 P&Z meeting, he said, "I am very grateful for the support I received from the Land Use department, the first selectman, the Planning & Zoning Commission and local residents. This is an experience I will certainly never forget."
Although he could have further divided and developed the land, Mr Carnrick said, "It was never about making the most money possible. From the beginning my plan was to explore all preservation options prior to development. The Newtown Forest Association came up with a proposal that was a rare win for everybody involved."
Regarding the 30 acres at Cherry Grove, Mr Carnrick envisions connections between NFA, town, and private property that could connect the farm to Ferris Creamery by creating trails. "The trail system would be over 2 miles long and would allow residents to walk or ride their horses all the way from the Cherry Grove Farm to the Ferris Creamery. That would be incredible," he said.
Newtown Forest Association
The NFA is now in a position to make the purchase, the bottom line is once the lot line revision is put through the NFA will hold title to almost 30 acres, Mr Smith said.
"There was a nice turn out at the P&Z meeting in support of the land preservation," he said.
A small parking area for public access will also give access to residents who wish to visit the property.
"One of the exciting parts of this is we border about 7 acres of town-owned open space, so that's about 37 acres," of contiguous open space, Mr Smith said.
Also, "There is the potential that we can access other NFA properties," within walking distance of the Cherry Grove land. With access to Boggs Hill residents could access the NFA's Fosdick Preserve.
Impressed with the support the NFA has so far received, Mr Smith said more than 400 individual donations have come in, including those from civic organizations, and $10,000 from Newman's Own Charitable Foundation.
NFA is continuing to fundraise for this purchase. Learn more about the NFA land trust at newtownforestassociation.org.
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