Conservation Commission Discusses Ballot Vote for Easement

McDonough parcel not suitable for housing

Press release

Do you enjoy looking at Andover’s landscape?

Our town has open fields for grazing livestock, views, rolling hillsides, and forest trails. Many of these properties are protected and preserved in perpetuity because of land conservation efforts by landowners, the Town of Andover, the Andover Conservation Commission (ACC), and the Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust (ASLPT).

At Andover’s Town meeting on March 14, registered voters will be asked to approve placing a non-lapsing conservation easement on a 6.3-acre lot. This lot (#15-582-198) is owned by the Town and is referred to as the McDonough parcel near Dyer’s Crossing.

The ACC hired a Certified Wetland Scientist to independently determine the property’s assets and house lot suitability. This is a necessary step to protect this sensitive natural resource. Sucker Brook is an important surface water and is a highly valued wetland system. These healthy stream ecosystems provide communities with many benefits including water purification, flood control, nutrient recycling, waste decomposition, fisheries, wildlife habitat, and aesthetics.

Preservation of the property in its current state would provide a scenic and undisturbed natural buffer between the Northern Rail Trail and Route 11 and would help safeguard the wetland attributes.

Mrs. McDonough wanted to put this parcel into a conservation easement to take advantage of federal tax benefits. But this process was started too late in the tax year. Therefore, her alternative was to donate the parcel to the Town to conserve. Although there is no formal documentation of this intent, several Andover residents recall her desire to conserve the land.

There are a number of reasons this lot is not suitable for a house:

A large percentage of this property falls within a floodplain/flood zone. 

Any potential development could be in peril given today’s warming climate and the predicted increasing precipitation and flood risk if construction is allowed.

Based on field observations there is likely not a large enough building envelope for a
small house considering the required leach field and well setbacks from the wetlands and from Route 11. 

The combination of FEMA designated floodplain involving most of this lot, proximal
steep slopes, and setback requirements make this lot challenging for development.

Were the property to be sold for building, the Town could be opening itself to potential      
legal action.

Property maps will be available for viewing when the polls open and during Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 14.  A vote in favor will sustain this important Andover gateway property.
The Andover Conservation Commission believes it is long overdue to formally conserve this property and protect it for the future.

The Conservation Commission invites and welcomes interested folks to attend an information  meeting at 7 PM on Wednesday, March 8, in the Andover Library.