Vandersluis property on Special Town Meeting warrant
Lisa Mosczynski, Metacomet Land Trust President (center), with Cheri and Jim VanderSluis at their 116-acre property. An article to preserve the land is on the warrant for the November town meeting. Photo courtesy of Anne Mazar
Voters asked to preserve 116-acre parcel, covered by
grant and CPA funds
By Linda Chuss
At Mendon’s special town meeting on Nov. 6, one article up for vote is maintaining the Vandersluis property as woods and fields, thereby protecting it from development.
Known as “Maple Farm Sanctuary,” the property is just south of Hopedale Street and is currently owned by residents Jim and Cheri VanderSluis. The 116-acre parcel includes approximately 20 acres of hay fields, 90 acres of mature forest, and the remaining acreage is vernal pools, a farm pond, and Muddy Brook. Old stone walls, cart paths, and trails traverse the area.
If the article passes at town meeting, a conservation restriction would be placed on the land, which prevents development in perpetuity and allows the public use of the trails. The intention is to help preserve Mendon’s history, scenic views, and rural character, and to offer hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, observation of nature, and educational walks.
The Metacomet Land Trust and the Mendon Conservation Commission would hold the conservation restriction. To acquire it, the land trust submitted a grant proposal with a total project cost of $418,150; the Mendon portion would be $225,000 to be covered by Community Preservation Act funds.
“There would be no override, no debt exclusion, and no new taxes to residents. We have sufficient community preservation funds for projects like this because we work with other organizations to obtain grants and donations, and we rely on volunteers,” said Anne Mazar, chair of the Community Preservation Committee.
Lisa Mosczynski, Metacomet Land Trust president, said, “The appraised value is $1.65 million. Jim and Cheri are generously giving up their development rights and offering the town safekeeping of picturesque historic agricultural land, aquifer protection, important wildlife habitat, and passive recreational opportunities. We plan to expand the trails to connect with abutting protected open space in Hopedale and Mendon. This conservation restriction will also preserve the pastoral view from North Avenue.”
One concern with the conservation restriction is that hunting would continue to be prohibited, primarily because students from the nearby school will be visiting the property. Mazar explained that by preserving the land, it will support an abundance of wildlife that could be hunted on other properties.
If the article does not pass, the VanderSluis family could sell the property to developers who have been making inquiries, according to town officials.