Waitsfield dairy farmer Donny Joslyn conserved the bulk of his 150-acre Common Road dairy farm well over two decades ago. Now Joslyn wants to conserve a 72-acre parcel north of the farm, near Ski Valley Acres, that was left out of that first conservation effort.
Joslyn came to the Waitsfield Conservation Commission this week with his nephew, Charley Burbank, to discuss conserving that last parcel through the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB). The farm was conserved through the Vermont Land Trust.
Joslyn and Burbank provided additional documentation about the proposal when the conservation commission met on July 15. The conservation commission will review the proposal before making a recommendation to the select board as to whether the town will sponsor the proposal for the VHCB to purchase the development rights.
The 72-acre parcel includes 200 feet of road frontage on Common Road and is made up of a 3.5-acre meadow, with the balance of the property in woodland. The land ruses from west to east with an elevation range of 1,110 to 1,540 feet. The parcel includes a deer wintering area and is part of a habitat block with high scores in the Agency of Natural Resources Atlas, indicating the value of the block from a wildlife perspective due to its size and lack of fragmentation by development.
Under the town’s zoning, the property could be developed into 1-acre lots, depending on access to road frontage.
At the commission’s June meeting, Burbank told the commissioners that funds from the sale of the conservation easement would go toward his uncle’s care. In previous conversations with the commission, Burbank has also said that funds were needed to restore the farm to an operating condition. Conservation commissioners told Burbank that they would need to explore what it means to be a sponsor of a proposal to the VHCB.
Typically, a nonprofit such as the Vermont Land Trust would act as a sponsor, similar to the role the land trust played in the town’s acquisition of the Saffan parcel for the Scrag Mountain Gateway project. If the proposal does go forward, the town would seek a grant from the VHCB to partially assist in funding the purchase of development rights which, if completed, would then be held jointly by the town and the VHCB.