SOUTHINGTON — The town is considering another development rights purchase — Karabin Farms on Andrews Street.
The town would spend nearly $400,000 to preserve the property as open space or farmland in a continuing effort to control residential development of the remaining large parcels in town. The state would pick up the other half of the nearly $800,000 purchase price under the Farmland Preservation Program.
The Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to decide Tuesday if it will recommend the purchase, with final approval by the Town Council.
Under the proposal, the town would pay of $397,993 of the $795,986 price tag for the rights to keep the 47.9 acre farm protected as farmland or open space. The state would pay the remaining amount under a farm preservation program. If approved, the Karabin family would continue to own the property but can’t sell it to developers.
“The land will be forever preserved farmland or open space,” Michael Karabin said Friday. “The town worked with us and the state of Connecticut to put this deal together.”
The state Department of Agriculture developed the Farmland Preservation Program to ensure local availability of fresh farm products and to help agriculture remain an important part of the state’s economy.
“Agriculture is one of Connecticut's most vital economic sectors, and at its heart is the state's extraordinary farmland,” according to a statement on the Department of Agriculture website. “The Department of Agriculture preserves working lands by acquiring development rights to agricultural properties through its Farmland Preservation Program, ensuring that the land remains available only for agricultural use in perpetuity.”
The farms remain in private ownership and continues to pay local property taxes. Farm owners volunteer to participate in exchange for a realistic alternative to selling land for residential development.
The proposed deal also fits into the town’s goals to conserve farmland and open space and prevent residential development.
Earlier this month, town leaders voted unanimously to purchase 10 acres of undeveloped land on Sherry Drive for $400,000. The mostly wooded property is adjacent to town-owned open space, as well as Karabin Farms.
Last month, the council voted to purchase land and development rights for Greenleaf Bros. Stables on Laning Street. Under the deal, the town will buy two acres of the farm outright, adding it to neighboring open space, for $110,000. Development rights, which prevent the farm owners from building houses, cost the town $225,000.
In April, the council voted along party lines to buy 16 acres of wooded land on Mount Vernon Road.
In May, the council agreed to buy 471 Canal St., a third of an acre next to the town-owned train depot, for $85,000. It will be used to expand parking for the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and could eventually be used for public restrooms.
The Farmland Preservation Program has preserved more than 44,500 acres on 370 farms as of July 2019. The long-term goal is to preserve 130,000 acres.
The application is evaluated according to state regulations. If the farm meets minimum scoring criteria, the commissioner may accept the application.
The farm is appraised for the unrestricted market value and the market agricultural value, the difference between the two indicating the value of the development rights. The commissioner may then negotiate for the development rights, according to the DOA.
The public is invited to link to the Planning Commission’s virtual meeting through www.southington.org or by phone: 1-408-418-9388, access code: 179 265 5464