Council Approves Land Conservation Agreement in South East Quadrant

The City Council has approved participation in a proposed multi-party transaction to spur conservation efforts on approximately 375 acres of the Auclair Farm in the Southeast corner of South Burlington.  The three parcels of land involved in this conserved area connects with hundreds of additional acres of conserved land in South Burlington, Williston and Shelburne forming a very significant tri-community conservation district.

Auclair 2018R1

The Council considered and approved three separate motions that encompassed the broad agreement during their meeting on September 17.  The vote was 4 -1, with Councilor Thomas Chittenden voting in opposition.

Under the terms of the proposed transaction, the City of South Burlington will commit $605,968 from the Open Space Fund, as part of a much larger land acquisition consisting of three parcels, described as “A”, “B”, and “C”.  The balance of funding will be provided by Dirt Capital Partners, an investment firm dedicated to financing transactions leading to the conservation of farmland.  

The City of South Burlington’s financial participation is with Parcel “B”, a 117-acre piece of land bounded by Hinesburg Road on the east and Cheesefactory Road on the south.  The proposed transaction also includes additional acreage on the east side of Hinesburg Road and the south side of Cheesefactory Road, which will be principally financed by the Vermont Land Trust and Dirt Capital Partners, LLC, respectively.  Taken together this represents about 375 total acres of farmland and forest, with the principal objective of conservation.  According to the Vermont Land Trust and Dirt Capital Partners, the City’s participation in the purchase and conservation of the first property was the critical element in all three parcels being purchased. 

The general terms of the proposed agreement for Parcel “B” are as follows;

  • The term of the agreement with Dirt Capital Partners is five years, with a guaranteed option to conserve what is currently valued at approximately 35% of the total development potential on the property, with no fewer than forty (40) acres on the Lot.
  • The City will work with various partners to secure the entirety of the property with agricultural and perpetual conservation easements, designed to maintain the forest block on the westerly side of the Lot; provide a future public parking area for access; obtain and provide public trail access to other properties that will be conserved under the deal as well as to the City-owned “Scott” parcel; and, maintain a vegetative buffer along Muddy Brook.
  • They will credit the City’s contribution towards any full conservation or purchase of the Lot.
  • The City holds a right of first refusal and option to purchase, with the exception of any conserved land conveyed to a farmer; and/or land for up to 9 small housing lots on the Lot.

The parties expect to close on the transaction for all three parcels on October 5th.  When the transaction is completed all of the land is expected to be managed by Corie Pierce of the Bread and Butter Farm.  The plan is to make use of the properties for long term agricultural use while respecting sensitive natural resources and forest areas.