Community Preservation Committee Considers Funds to Survey Boundary Lines

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

At the request of Conservation Commission liaison Andreas Uthoff, the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) will recommend to November’s Special Town Meeting that $3,500 be allocated to survey and mark property lines along the edges of the Hartwell Forest and Jordan Conservation Land. According to Uthoff, a number of encroachments by abutters have been noted along the boundaries of these conservation lands, presumably because property owners are not clear where their land ends and the protected parcels begin.

At issue is tree and brush cutting on conservation land as well as yard waste dumping. “If we have the actual determination of where their property ends and where conservation property begins, you can basically make [the abutters] clean it up. You can say ‘I’m sorry, it doesn’t work here. You can’t cut any more [and] you have to remove [any] debris.”

“There’s a precedent for [using CPC money for a survey to establish boundary lines],” said the Historic Preservation Commission’s Don Corey. “The Job Lane House, which is town property, is about five acres. There were encroachments both from Sweetwater and Wildwood: people dumping, people actually storing stuff, people planting stuff that turned out to be planted on town property. Once the survey was done—it was done with Community Preservation money about four or five years ago—everybody straightened out. You didn’t need any lawyers…it’s just nobody knows where the heck the line is.”

“But this straightens it out going forward,” said Robin Steele from the Recreation Commission. “People have already done stuff.”

“You can actually make them remove it,” responded Selectmen Cathy Cordes.

Uthoff added, “It’s not that ‘since we’ve trespassed for the last five years, now it’s our property.’ It doesn’t work that way. The moment it’s established where their property ends, then they can’t continue [using the conservation land].”

The committee unanimously voted to recommend the surveying project at the November 13th Special Town Meeting. This project is eligible for Community Preservation funding because it fits the criteria for Open Space appropriations under the Community Preservation Act guidelines. The three other headings under which projects may be considered for funding are Affordable Housing, Historic Preservation, and Recreation.

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