2008-01-17 / Letters to the Editor

Please give to farm effort

As chair of the Jamestown Conservation Commission for over twenty years, I would like to provide my insight to the recent events surrounding the preservation of the Neale and Dutra farms.

A major goal of the Conservation Commission since its inception in 1984 has been the preservation of farmland on Conanicut Island. The Dutra and Neale farms were specifically targeted in the town's Recreation, Conservation and Open Space Plans, as were other farms already preserved. Not only was our goal to preserve the agricultural activity on the island, it was to hopefully prevent the conversion of these properties to subdivisions or other non-agricultural uses. This was a real possibility. It has taken many years, the willingness of the Neale and Dutra families, and a huge effort by both the town and Conanicut Island Land Trust to insure this land would be preserved as farmland forever.

Whether you agree or disagree with a condition of the agreement that the Dutras be allowed to build a farmrelated retail building along North Main Road, the bottom line is that the Joe and Jessie did NOT have to sell the development rights to their farm to the town, land trust or any other entity; they could have chosen to sell to a developer for the highest and best offer with the real potential for the farm to be developed into a residential subdivision or some other non-agricultural use. Thankfully, the Dutra family chose farming over development and the agricultural use of this property is now guaranteed into perpetuity, and the threat of development is gone. If you made a contribution to the Conanicut Island Land Trust for the farmland preservation effort it will be returned to you, as they have withdrawn from this effort. Please consider regifting your contribution to the Town's Farmland Preservation Project, which is tax deductible. Together we can leave an agricultural legacy for future generations.

Chris Powell Chair, Jamestown Conservation Commission

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