Aug 16, 2013 Joe Genco Uncategorized
A new nature preserve in Spafford is close to becoming a reality.
The Spafford town board will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22 to hold a public hearing on two proposed local laws to establish Planned Development Districts (PDD) in the town, both of which will become nature preserves with hiking trails under the guidance of the Finger Lakes Land Trust.
Since some of the land in question will be opened up for public use, town code says that it must be designated as a PDD and the town has the right to set rules about land usage and get public input before making the final approval.
The Finger Lakes Land Trust, which manages 30 conservation areas and more than 100 conservation easements, has never needed to have a property designated as a PDD before, executive director Andy Zepp said.
Despite the increased processing time, the PDD will not place any new or unusual restrictions on the land and all public feedback has been positive thus far, Zepp said.
One of the districts includes 200 acres of land that the trust recently purchased from local farmers Bill and Leonard Burns and a conservation easement on 31 acres of land owned by John and Robin Hinchcliff.
The land acquired from Burns will become a nature preserve complete with a 2-mile looped trail that will offer scenic views of Skaneateles Lake, though it offers no lake access. The land trust also plans to build an 18-car parking area and trailhead at the end of Covey Road, a dead-end street off of Route 41, Zepp said.
The town considered officially abandoning Covey Road to make it a private roadway under the guidance of the land trust, though state law prohibits them from doing so, Spafford Town Supervisor Webb Stevens said.
The dead-end road has not had a house on it in years and has only recently been used by the Burns brothers for farmland access. However, the town did some work on the road last year and state law says that a road can only abandoned if it has gone six years without any maintenance work being done, Stevens said.
The Finger Lakes Land Trust is also seeking a PDD approval for a small corridor starting off of the east side of Route 41 and extending to Ripley Hill nature preserve, a 118-acre preserve owned by the Central New York Land Trust. The corridor is intended to be used for a hiking trail to connect Route 41 to the preserve, which is undeveloped aside from a season dirt road that runs through the property.
The corridor was also purchased from the Burns brothers, but must be its own PDD because it is not connected to the other lands, Stevens said.
These purchases and easement are the beginning of an ongoing land trust initiative it first announced in May to conserve land around Skaneateles Lake.
“This will be the single largest link in a greenbelt that would extend around the southern half of Skaneateles Lake,” Zepp said.
The greenbelt would potentially include a hiking trail that would connect the new land in Spafford to Bear Swamp State Forrest a recreational area in Cayuga County to the west of Skaneateles Lake.
The idea for the trail originated in 2009, and though much work remains to be done to make it a reality, the new land acquisition in Spafford is a good starting point, Zepp said.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.