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Clifton Park protects land

Clifton Park officials gathered in the rain and wind on Monday, Oct. 5, at 92 Hubbs Road to announce the town was going to protect 59 acres of open space farmland by buying the development rights for $325,000.

Sandra Baillargeon, daughter of the late Benjamin and Helen Heckman, who operated what is known locally as the Cloverdale Farm, is selling the permanent conservation easement to the town on 59 acres of the remaining farm. Baillargeon and her husband, Paul, are the family's fourth generation to own the property.

From my perspective, three and a half years ago the owners of the property came in with an application from to the planning board for a plan for 33 homes, said Steve Bulger, planning board chair for the Town of Clifton Park. "At that time we said, 'Let's talk about this because it's an area that the town had identified as being of particular significance towards agricultural and scenic vistas.'"

He said that the town has been going back and forth with the Baillargeons for three years. The result is that they decided to sell the development rights to the town for $325,000.

"From where I'm sitting, I think that's a big victory because it's an important open space parcel for the town. It had been identified by the open space committee as something that needed to be protected by any means possible," said Bulger.

Some $100,000 of the project will be paid for with a grant from the Saratoga County Farmland and Open Space Protection program. The other $225,000 will be paid from the town's open space fund, which was established by the Town Board in 2003.

The property, identified as a parcel worthy of protection in the 2005 Western Clifton Park Land Conservation Plan and GEIS, includes woods, wetlands and a pond and wildlife habitat The farm includes a red barn in good condition that preserves the rural character of the area. One farmhouse may also be built on the property to enable a farm family to live and work there.

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