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Growing Our Lands

How OCT Protects Land

The Trust acquires land for conservation in a variety of ways. Generous, preservation-minded landowners make gifts of land (owned by OCT and conserved in perpetuity), establish Conservation Restrictions on their land, or arrange to sell land to OCT.

But as land becomes more valuable, setting aside new land for open space becomes ever more challenging. Sometimes it takes a village — or at least a neighborhood — to help the Trust raise enough funds to purchase a piece of land that’s special to people who live nearby, or to the entire community. A property may protect treasured views or water quality or rural character; it may offer the potential for a wildlife corridor or a peaceful trail.

OCT has nearly a half-century of experience in protecting land in Orleans, and a track record of bringing people together to make it happen. Providing our expertise, leveraging grant opportunities, and working with committed residents who help organize neighbors and step forward with contributions, OCT has successfully completed land acquisitions that at first seemed dauntingly difficult. Such projects help build community and offer immense satisfaction to those who had a hand in permanently protecting treasured places in their own backyard.

Current Land Acquisition Campaigns

66 Portanimicut Road

OCT is working with South Orleans residents to purchase and preserve nearly five acres on Portanimicut Road. The three lots up for sale (totaling 4.65 acres) could forge a vital link between existing conservation lands both south and north of the road. Such linkages are a kind of holy grail for land conservation because they provide protected corridors for wildlife—increasingly rare in developed areas like Cape Cod.

In addition to creating a preserve of nearly 100 contiguous acres, acquiring these lots would enable OCT to provide parking for easier access to the Town’s so-called Christian Property, where a peaceful trail skirts an Atlantic white cedar swamp.  Moreover, the land offers future access to another 20 acres, a promised gift to the Trust by Rachia Heyelman—and the potential for a trail extending all the way to Paw Wah Point. On the other hand, if we don’t acquire the property, development of the three lots would add to the area’s septic load and erode its rural character.

We were able to negotiate a purchase agreement for the three lots at Number 66 when a sale for development fell through. But we couldn’t obtain an extended closing—so we only have until the end of 2019 to raise funds before the closing. And at a negotiated price of $775,000, it’s one of the costliest purchases in OCT’s history. Importantly, OCT is obligated to close on this purchase even if our fundraising falls short.

OCT will contribute to the purchase but must rely on private donors for most of the needed funding. If the fundraising effort falls short by the January 2020 deadline, OCT will need to consider options such as reselling one of the lots in order to reduce its investment.

As of late September 2019, OCT has begun a dialogue with the Orleans Affordable Housing Trust regarding a potential joint open space and affordable housing project. Under this approach, OCT and the Orleans Affordable Housing Trust would jointly solicit funds through the town’s Community Preservation Committee budget, which will be voted on at the May 2020 Orleans Town Meeting. Neither OCT or the Orleans Affordable Housing Trust is yet committed to this funding and partial land-use option. OCT would prefer to preserve all three lots as open space, and we will continue to fundraise  diligently in the hope of doing so. However, OCT has clearly indicated from the start of the  project that we would explore resale and/or housing options as a backup plan, and OCT recognizes the need for and the benefits of increasing affordable housing stock in Orleans and throughout the Cape.

Several neighborhood events have been held or are planned to share information and encourage contributions.

To get involved or contribute to this campaign, contact OCT Director Steve O’Grady at (508) 255-0183 or stephen.ogrady@orleansconservationtrust.org.

66 Portanimicut Road
By the Numbers

Acres to be conserved:  4.65, includes .54 acres of wetland)
Buildable lots:  Three; two undeveloped and one with a dwelling to be demolished.
Appraised value:  $1,020,000
Purchase price negotiated by OCT:  $775,000 plus about $50,000 for demolition/restoration
Habitat:  Pine/oak woodland; one lot with a wetland that may be a vernal pool.
Contiguous conserved acres if these parcels preserved:  Nearly 100
Deadline for fundraising:  January 1, 2020

 

“I’m always amazed by how much wildlife we see from our own yard, and I know it’s because we have so much open land near us. There’s even a wild honeybee hive. It’s just a very special place, and I’d feel remiss if we didn’t do everything we can to keep it that way.”

— Kris Nasinnyk, 66 Portanimicut neighbor

 

 

45 Herring Brook Way

Stand by for details on this new campaign!

 

“People who live near conserved land already understand the many benefits homeowners derive from that proximity, and they’re eager to see more acres remain undeveloped.”

— Charlie Carlson, chair, OCT Land Acquisition Committee

 

 

 

 

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