New Milford not sure it wants acres of donated land
Who doesn’t want 35 acres of Connecticut woods and hills?
Well — maybe the Town of New Milford.
Acreage near Tory’s Cave might be donated to the town — but the town needs to think about it.
Rather than a valuable resource, some Town Council members worry the gift would be a financial liability.
The land would connect a protected Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust property with the 25 acres donated to the town in 2012, for 170 continuous acres, said Chris Charles, who is representinglandowners Eagle Holdings.
“It really is the linchpin to this whole area,” Charles said.
The property is valued at $400,000, and he said it has pristine wetlands, as well as a portion of the Blue Trail — a statewide hiking trail. About three acres of it is considered core farmland.
But some Town Council members wondered if the town can take on this property, especially as it grapples with state funding cuts and is trying to sell unused properties it already owns.
During the council’s Monday meeting they requested more information on the site.
Councilwoman Katy Francis said the town might not be able to do anything with the property without spending money it doesn’t have right now, adding it could be a liability to the town that would require more insurance.
She said the property was very sloped and probably couldn’t be developed.
Council members wondered if this property has been on the market and questioned the precedent of waiving the taxes for this half of the year — which the owner is requesting in mid-March.
This is the first time this piece has been listed by itself. The entire property was listed a while ago, but 25 acres were donated to the town in 2012 and 22 acres were sold to be developed into condos once the property was cleaned up, Charles said.
He said the property has some level parts and though initial access to the property isn’t easy, they are working with an engineer about fixing that and creating parking.
Charles said the owner wants to donate it to the town, which can determine its best use, while a land trust would focus on preservation.
He said Weantinoge wants the property but was unable to come to terms with the owner.
“Your economic development team has an excellent process for reviewing a piece of land and determining what’s the best comprehensive plan for something,” he said. “That’s something the town of New Milford can bring to the table that a land trust can’t do.”