Property owners seek CPC restriction

WESTFIELD – The owners of 20 acres of land located at the intersection of Routes 10 and 202 plan to submit a conservation restriction petition to the Community Preservation Committee at its Sept 27 session.
Sarah LaCour of Conservation Works, LLC of Amherst, representing Joan Corell and her brother Robert Seher, said the conservation restriction is currently being reviewed by the Winding River Land Conservancy.
“This project is in the due diligence phase,” LaCour said. “We’re here tonight to get information. It’s a small, but important piece of actively cultivated land located at a gateway to the community on Route 10. The family would like to see the land preserved in perpetuity.”
Both land portions of the property have two residences. LaCour said that Seher still cultivates flowers on his property along the north side of Route 202.
“Ideally we’d put the two pieces together under the restriction,” LaCour said.
Commissioner Vincent Olinski said the CPC has worked with the Winding River Land Conservancy in the past on “a case-by-case basis” to protect and preserve land in the city. Winding River typically holds the conservation restriction and is responsible to ensure that the conditions of the restriction are enforced.
“I’d like to see you come back with an application to our next meeting,” Olinski said. “Clean up the space request.”
LaCour said the city has appraised the property’s’ value at $460,000, but that assessment includes the two residences and outbuildings.
The CPC will require an estimate of the value of land to be placed under the restriction and a component of its decision to seek funding for the project.
At-large Commissioner William Porter questioned if the petition should be in the names of the property owners or in the name of Winding River which will actually hole the conservation restriction, a distinction which will be resolved at the September session.
The Community Preservation Act (Chapter 267 of the Acts of 2000) allows the city to collect funds, which are currently matched at a rate of 22 cents on the dollar by the state, to foster preservation of open space, historical buildings and facilities and to increase the stock of affordable housing for low and moderate income residents. City residents approved the 1 percent surtax on property, with the first $100,000 of that evaluation exempt from the surcharge.
The Community Preservation Committee makes recommendations to the municipality’s legislative body, the City Council in Westfield’s case, for the acquisition, creation and preservation of open space; for the acquisition, preservation, rehabilitation and restoration of historic resources; for the acquisition and preservation of land for recreational use; and for the creation, preservation and support of community housing that is acquired or created.
The city’s 2013 fiscal year budget provides the CPC with an operational budget of $435,000, although the committee has more than $600,000 in reserve for appropriation of previously approved projects. The CPC votes to request the mayor and City Council to appropriate the CPA funds for those specific projects.
The CPC is currently assessing other conservation restriction petitions, as well as historic projects which all compete for the commission’s limited funding resources.

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