Councilors and Mayor agree to explore options to preserve farmland near Haverhill watershed

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Haverhill is exploring options to protect the city’s water supply by purchasing a 22.5-acre parcel of land in eastern Haverhill.

City councilors and Mayor James J. Fiorentini said Tuesday night they wanted to revive the city’s option to purchase land at 97 Corliss Hill Road. The city had previously chosen not to exercise its right to purchase the property to prevent housing development there. Instead, promote the purchase of a 29.4 acre property on Brandy Brow Road.

When it was learned that due to COVID-19, the city had more time to reconsider its options, City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan, among others, expressed interest in both properties.

“I think it is the intention of the Council that we try to preserve these two areas. It is our watershed and we must protect our watershed. I think everyone is on the same page. I think that’s why a lot of people are here tonight and I hope the discussion is on Corliss Hill as well as Brandy Brow Road, ”he said.

The “discussion” mentioned by Sullivan refers to a meeting taking place today between the mayor, environmental health technician Robert E. Moore Jr., deputy director of public works Robert E. Ward and Vanessa Johnson-Hall d ‘Essex County Greenbelt, a land trust.

Johnson-Hall told city council there are a number of ways the city can act to protect this property, including working with a group like Greenbelt.

“So the way this conservation option would work is for the Greenbelt to partner with a private landowner to ensure that the land is preserved at all times. The city would cede its right of first refusal to Greenbelt. Greenbelt would then buy the land for $ 400,000. The greenbelt would then permanently preserve the land with a conservation restriction. It is a permanent deed restriction on the property that remains with the land, regardless of who owns the property, ”she explained.

Johnson-Hall said Greenbelt’s plan would prevent further development of the property and ensure that any agriculture carried out on the property does not impact drinking water. She also said their plan would include a publicly accessible hiking trail. She also informed Council that the next door neighbor has agreed to apply those same restrictions to their 23 acres if the city chooses to go in that direction.

Council voted to wait until the end of today’s meeting before making any decisions, agreeing to revisit the plan at the June 15 Council session.


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