March 7, 2013

Scarborough council approves funds to preserve cattle farm

By John Richardson
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough Town Council has voted to spend as much as $270,000 for a conservation easement to preserve a small cattle farm off Beech Ridge Road.

The money will come out of a voter-approved land conservation fund, which has well over $1 million set aside for such projects, according to Town Manager Thomas Hall. Councilors voted unanimously at a meeting Wednesday to support the project.

Comstock Farm is located at 22 Berry Road and covers more than 90 acres, with about half of the land wooded and the other half fields. The Comstock family has owned the property since 1965 and uses the fields to raise a small number of cattle for beef.

Now that the Scarborough council has approved the funding, the final easement deal is expected to be completed this summer, Hall said. The town's money will cover the entire cost of the easement, which will be held by the Maine Farmland Trust.

Scarborough's $270,000 will essentially buy most of the development rights to the property. The Comstock family will reserve the right for a couple of homestead lots, but will give up the right to turn the property into a residential subdivision – a use that could bring an estimated $600,000.

The deal also includes enhanced public access to the land, such as trail links to adjacent open space.

In exchange, the Comstock family will have capital to maintain and expand the family beef farm.

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