Agreement Could Help Protect Newington Farm (CT)
Newington, CT, 3/2/05 – Newington officials, along with the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit conservation organization, announced today that the town has secured the opportunity to permanently protect a treasured working farm. TPL and the town have negotiated an option to conserve the 61-acre Eddy Farm, located at the intersection of Cedar Street and Willard Avenue near the town’s center. Town Manager Paul J. Fetherston has included $2.7 million in his annual budget request to the Town Council to finance the project.
Eddy Farm has been in continuous farming operation since the early 1700’s, producing crops of corn, strawberries, hay and fruit. The property consists of open fields, an orchard, farm buildings and wetlands that comprise a picturesque agricultural landscape. The location of the farm, adjacent to other open space in Newington’s center, is a key scenic feature that helps shape the character of the town. Together with the adjacent town-owned Indian Hill golf course and Mill Pond Park, the permanent protection of Eddy Farm will secure 210 acres of protected open land in the heart of Newington.The Town of Newington adopted the preservation of Eddy Farm as a top priority for open space in its 1995-2000 Plan of Conservation and Development.
TPL, working with the Town, has secured an option from the landowner to purchase an “Agricultural Preservation Easement” over the farm at a cost of $2.7 million. The easement, sometimes referred to as a “land preservation agreement,” is a permanent and legally binding restriction against any future development on the land.
If the Town approves the expenditure, the easement will be paid for over a period of three years from the town’s capital budget. In accepting payment for the easement, owner Lucy Fox, daughter of the late Roger Eddy, would enter into a permanent legal agreement never to develop the land. The agreement would be binding on all future owners. Newington Mayor Thomas B. McBride said, “The permanent preservation of the agricultural use of the Eddy Farm gives the Town the opportunity to preserve our community’s farming roots that run so deep. It is certainly a significant investment by our community, but it greatly enhances the quality of life for the present and future generations in a fiscally efficient way. There’s no question this is a great moment in Newington’s history.”
Lucy Fox remarked, “Our family has loved this land and taken care of it for generations. Others love it, too: residents of Newington, the hundreds of kids who have worked on the farm, and thousands of people driving by daily who enjoy the view. I’m happy to have this wonderful opportunity to save a beautiful and productive working landscape in the heart of town for generations to come.”
TPL State Director Tim Northrop added, “Newington, like many farming communities, has lost much of its agricultural space to residential and commercial development. In Connecticut as a whole, farmland is being lost at a rate of 7,000 to 9,000 acres per year. TPL is excited to be working on the Eddy Farm project as part of our statewide effort to forestall this trend, and to preserve an exceptional open space resource in the town.”
Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Fox will continue to run the farm and carry on her family’s legacy of farming in Newington. The Town of Newington will hold the Agricultural Preservation Easement, ensuring that the property will not be developed or converted to non-agricultural uses.
The agreement will:
- Require that the land remain undeveloped;
- Prevent the subdivision and construction of residential homes on the land;
- Allow and encourage continued farming on the property;
- Provide limited public access in ways that do not interfere with agricultural operations through organized events and guided walks on the farm.
The Town will apply for a grant from the Federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program to help defray the costs of the easement, and plans to submit a grant application to the program by the April 5 deadline. The Town Council will vote April 12 on the capital budget, including the appropriation for the Eddy Farm easement.
In submitting his budget proposal, Fetherston noted that the initiative makes economic sense. “If developed as currently allowed by zoning, we’ve estimated that the property could yield approximately 146 units of residential housing. Based upon the cost of services associated with this permitted residential development scenario, the town would spend $2.68 on services for each dollar received in tax revenue. Clearly, the conservation plan is in the best financial interests of our community – both short and long term.”
Council Majority Leader Richard Carbray said, “The collaboration between the town of Newington and the Eddy family to preserve the last significant parcel of farm land in the town is truly a historical accomplishment which will guarantee this land remains as it is forever. It will serve as a remainder of Newington’s long agricultural history and preserve it for generations to come.”
Cathleen Hall, Minority Leader of the Town Council, said, “I am proud to be involved with the preservation of this significant property that will prove to be a shining example of future planning for the Town of Newington.”
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization which works with others to conserve land for people to enjoy as working landscapes, parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Connecticut program (1995-2005) and the protection of more than 4,000 acres of open space, watershed land, working farms and forestland, and historic resources in 32 communities across the state. For more information, please visit www.tpl.org/connecticut.