Final approvals underway for purchase of new Rindge conservation property

  • A 220-acre piece of the property currently owned by Rindge Stone and Gravel on Old New Ipswich Road is set to be purchased and conserved for the Town of Rindge, preserving old-growth trees, wetlands and vernal pools. Courtesy photo—

  • A 220-acre piece of the property currently owned by Rindge Stone and Gravel on Old New Ipswich Road is set to be purchased and conserved for the Town of Rindge, preserving old-growth trees, wetlands and vernal pools. Courtesy photo—

  • A 220-acre piece of the property currently owned by Rindge Stone and Gravel on Old New Ipswich Road is set to be purchased and conserved for the Town of Rindge, preserving old-growth trees, wetlands and vernal pools. Courtesy photo—

  • A 220-acre piece of the property currently owned by Rindge Stone and Gravel on Old New Ipswich Road is set to be purchased and conserved for the Town of Rindge, preserving old-growth trees, wetlands and vernal pools. Courtesy photo—

  • A 220-acre piece of the property currently owned by Rindge Stone and Gravel on Old New Ipswich Road is set to be purchased and conserved for the Town of Rindge, preserving old-growth trees, wetlands and vernal pools. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/24/2021 11:08:43 AM

By the end of the year, the Town of Rindge hopes to close a deal with Rindge Stone and Gravel to purchase and conserve more than 220 acres of land surrounding the gravel pit, preserving old-growth trees and habitat for an endangered species of turtle.

On Tuesday, the Rindge Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a variance that will allow the new lot to have less than 250 feet of continual road frontage, one of the final steps needed before the land is officially subdivided.

Conservation Commission Chair David Drouin said the commission began talks to conserve the property in 2015, under the previous owner. The original goal at that time, he said, was to conserve the entire 360-acre property, including the gravel pit. Last year, however, Rindge Stone and Gravel was purchased by Jay Pittorino, who is continuing the gravel operations there. Pitterino was amenable to continuing to work with the board and conserving a large portion of the property – about 220 acres – around the pit itself.

The land connects with Converse Meadow, Mass Audobon’s Wildwood Camp and Annett State Forest.

“The property has 200-year-old gum trees, 300-year-old hemlocks, and it creates a conservation corridor between this property, Annett State Park and Converse Meadow,” Drouin said. “There’s a maze of trails already on the property.”

The Conservation Commission was initially seeking to raise about $750,000 for the purchase of the entire property, and i ntends to purchase the smaller parcel for about $360,000.

Drouin said Pitterino’s willingness to sell a large portion of the property was a relief, as the Conservation Commission has been raising funds and acquiring grants to purchase and conserve the property for more than five years, including securing funding from the Land and Community Heritage Program, the Drinking Water/Groundwater Conservation Fund, Moose Plate conservation grants and numerous private donors. The Conservation Commission has also dedicated $40,000 of its own, from a fund generated from fees when private landowners take their property out of current use and reserved for conservation efforts.

If finalized, the property would become the second-largest conserved property owned by the town, after Converse Meadow.

“It’s a wonderful project and a gift to the town,” said Select Board Chair Karl Pruter. “One of the problems we hear about is that there are areas of town that are developing very quickly, and this helps to preserve some of that rural character.”

The property lies over two of the town’s aquifers, the Contoocook and Lower Connecticut, and feeds into Hubbard Pond. Since Rindge doesn’t have a  municipal water system, preserving its water quality is of high importance, Drouin said.

And on the surface, there are also multiple vernal pools, an important habitat for breeding amphibians and reptiles. This is especially crucial in this case, as both the Blanding’s turtle – considered endangered – and the blue-spotted salamander – considered a species in greatest need of conservation – have been seen on the property.

When requesting the variance for road frontage, Eli Leino, an attorney representing Rindge Stone and Gravel, said the plan to turn the land into conservation property, and allow for recreation, created “about as low density a use as you can have,” and would have off-street parking for visitors. The benefits of creating a conserved buffer between the gravel pit and neighbors, plus the additional benefits of the conservation, outweighed the drawbacks of not having a long road frontage, he said.

Drouin said the frontage issue didn’t concern the Conservation Commission, which will manage the property, and isn’t out of step with other undeveloped, conserved properties in town.

“This is a unique opportunity,” Drouin said. “We hope the Board of Adjustment sees the merit in this. It’s a positive for the community.”

Board members agreed, and after only a short presentation, unanimously agreed to the variance.

“Sounds like a slam dunk,” said board member Phil Stenersen.

Rindge Stone and Gravel plans to submit a request to subdivide the land during an upcoming meeting of the Planning Board, and Drouin said the town hopes to close on the purchase of the land by the end of the year or early 2022.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.




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