Hadley, Amherst farmland protection eyed

  • Hadley Town Hall File photo

Staff Writer
Published: 1/17/2019 12:26:23 AM

HADLEY — A nearly 200-acre parcel of unprotected farmland along the Hadley and Amherst town lines could be placed in the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction program.

Kestrel Land Trust is putting together a plan to permanently protect the 193 acres of agricultural land, which is owned by the Szala family.

Both towns are being asked to provide Community Preservation Act money to support the preservation project.

In Hadley, the project is estimated to cost $720,000 to save the 170 acres between Comins and Shattuck roads. Of this, $210,000 is sought from the town’s CPA Committee, with $360,000 from the state Department of Agriculture and $150,000 from a transfer of development rights fund overseen by the Conservation Commission.

Janice Stone, the conservation agent for the town, told the CPA Committee this week that the land has long been sought for protection because it is adjacent to other farms in the APR program.

“(It’s) one of the last unprotected farms in Hadley,” Stone said.

If the land is not put into the APR program, it could be sold and developed for housing.

In Amherst, 23 additional acres of the Szala property would be protected between the Podick and Katherine Cole conservation areas. Both sites are popular with hikers, with the Noah Webster Trail at the Podick sanctuary.

Amherst would be asked to provide $188,000 from its CPA account.

Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek, who submitted an application to the town’s CPA Committee in December, wrote that the potential purchase is an opportunity to protect open space, connect hiking trails and maintain a wildlife corridor.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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