Development rights for more than 80 acres along Ridge Road in New Milford have been purchased for approximately $1 million by the town and the state Department of Agriculture.

The deal closed Dec. 27.

The property is part of the 150-acre farm owned by Harris Hill Farm LLC. Ownership of the land remains with the Harris family.

George Harris' family has owned the farm since 1958. The farm is in a family-limited corporation holding, with Mr. Harris' son-in-law, Ed Bailey, managing the farm since 1981.

The development rights purchase is a 70/30 split. The state's share is approximately $700,000 and the town's share is $298,122.36.

The Town Council authorized the use of $300,000 from the Waste Management settlement account for the acquisition of the rights in September 2011.

"This property is part of the acres of prime soil that were targeted in a study a few years ago," said Mayor Pat Murphy.

"It is contiguous to the Davenport piece and abutts to Weantinogue (Land Trust) property.

"You don't want to lose any more prime farm land. This is part of 1,000 acres along that ridge that we would like to preserve because it is prime farm land."

Use of the property is restricted to agricultural use.

Agricultural structures may be built or improved on the four-acre area surrounding the residence and outbuildings with state approval, according to the agreement.

--Susan Tuz