By John Fitts
The town of Canton and the state of Connecticut are looking at the possibility of purchasing development rights for 30.3 acres at Bristol’s Farm along Route 44.
Purchasing development rights is a way to prevent or restrict development but allow a family to continue to own and work the land.
The Board of Selectmen discussed the issue briefly Wednesday night as Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner mentioned the possibility of applying for a federal grant under the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a program of the United States Department of Agriculture.
That grant, for which an application is due soon, would provide 50 percent of the estimated “fair market value,” with the rest split between the state Department of Agriculture and the town. Without federal funding, the town would likely be responsible for at least 55 percent of the cost for development rights, Skinner said.
Selectman Tom Sevigny said there has been pressure from housing developers.
A state appraisal has valued the rights at approximately $300,000 but the number has not been negotiated, Skinner said. Officials also said the process is in preliminary stages.
Initially he had planned to bring up the issue at a future meeting but the federal grant application is due Jan. 15, Skinner said.
With concurrence needed from the Bristol family, it’s possibly the grant might not be filed in time, said Skinner, who added that he still wanted the board’s approval to apply should all the pieces fall into place. He added that it would not obligate the town to move forward.
Selectmen unanimously concurred to have Skinner apply for the federal grant if the information comes together in time.