NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen voted Monday to place an agricultural restriction on Ball Street farmland that it intends to purchase.
The 35 acres, located across the street from the Tougas Family Farm on 234 Ball St., is currently under control of the New England Forestry Foundation. Described by Selectman Jeff Amberson as "absolutely prime," the land has been leased by the Tougas family to grow strawberries.
While the town has moved to protect the parcel, Town Engineer Fred Litchfield said, the land "couldn't be easier to develop." Many in town have worried that developers were thinking the same thing, and may have been planning to purchase and build on the land.
"This piece has been on the radar screen for a long time," Amberson said.
Recently, the New England Forestry Foundation agreed to accept $500,000 for the land — valued at $1 million — on the condition that it is preserved. Under the terms of the deal, the state will pay $430,000, while the Conservation Commission will cover the remaining $70,000 with money from the conservation fund. Following the sale, Tougas Farm will be able to purchase agricultural rights directly from the town.
Litchfield said the town has been working closely with the Department of Agriculture for the past few years to work out this agreement.
"This property is being purchased at a very profitable bargain for the town, for the [Tougas] farm and for the state," Litchfield said.
Amberson called it "unbelievable" that the town could preserve the land at $2,000 per acre, adding that such deals are often more expensive.
He thanked the Conservation Commission and the Open Space Committee for their work.