Buzzards Bay Coalition looks to preserve 109 acres of Decas property

Jun 17, 2019

ROCHESTER — The Buzzards Bay Coalition is looking to preserve a 109-acre area across from Decas Cranberry’s Stuart Bogs one of two ways. At a June 17 Board of Selectmen meeting it got the Selectmen’s approval to go after a grant that would enable it to conserve the land. 

The other option to preserve the property near Old Middleborough Road would be to enter into an agreement with Seaboard Solar. The renewable energy company is interested in thirty acres north of the Decas Cranberry property to develop an array. However it agreed to purchase the 109 acres and donate it to the Buzzards Bay Coalition to preserve in exchange for the right to build an access road that would make it easier to service the array. 

But Brendan Annett, the Vice President of Watershed Protection for the Buzzards Bay Coalition, said that option is contingent on Seaboard Solar finishing the permitting process with the town. 

In the event that the solar company cannot complete the permitting process, the Buzzards Bay Coalition has an agreement with Decas Cranberry to purchase the property by 2020, contingent on the environmental group getting $805,000 in funding.The Coalition plans to provide $405,000 of the funds, and apply for a Local Acquisions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grant to cover the rest of the funds. 

The grant requires approval from the town’s Selectmen to submit an application (which are due by July 11), but would not cost the town anything. 

Though the Coalition is interested in an agreement with Seaboard Solar it “would still like to pursue a grant. There are a lot of variables,” Annett explained. 

The Buzzards Bay Coalition has also agreed to purchase and do wetland restoration on Stuart Bogs. However Annett said the coalition is keeping the planning and funding for the bog and other Decas woodland property separate. This portion of the planning deals only with the wooded part of the purchase. 

Selectmen also approved another land conservation effort on June 17, this one by the Rochester Land Trust, who is looking to preserve 20.9 acres of land in two parcels at Giffords Mill. The group is interested in the property because of the stream and for the historic value of the mills. The Land Trust had secured a $45,000 mini grant to purchase the land, but needed the Selectmen to accept the grant, which they did.