WILTON, Conn. — Wilton officials will soon decide whether the town should spend $2.2 million to conserve a 39-acre parcel of land owned by Wilton’s Keiser family.
The town is looking to purchase the development rights of the land — at the intersection of Cannon and Seeley Roads — through a conservation easement. Under the easement, the Keisers would retain the title to their property, but would be limited in what they can do with it.
“The way the easement is written, it first strips all the property down to say you can’t do anything except those activities that are consistent with conservation practices,” Wilton’s Environmental Affairs Director Patricia Sesto told the Board of Selectmen last week.
Of the 39-acres, two 2-acre lots will would be considered a reserved residential area. As part of the easement, Sesto said the Keisers would not be allowed to subdivide these lots.
The remaining 35-acres would be subject to stricter guidelines that would not allow for any development or subdivision. The guidelines would also spell out where certain plants can be planted, for example. Also, this area of the land would allow for some public access, like trails, but only in particular locations, Sesto said.
One key benefit of conserving this property, Sesto said, is helping to preserve the nearby Norwalk River. Also, it would make for a “strong open space corridor” as the property connects to other areas of protected open space, she said.
“This is the last priority piece [of land] available in town, so it is pretty important to us,” Sesto said.
The total cost to move forward with the easement would be $2.5 million, First Selectman Bill Brennan said. Of that, the town would pay $2.2 million and the Wilton Land Conservation Trust is committed to contributing $300,000, he said.
Ten years ago, when the town first looked into acquiring an easement, Sesto said it would have cost $4.5 million. Despite not having any assistance from the state, as originally believed, Sesto said the time is right to move forward.
“We’re finally at a point of time where the town is ready, the land trust is ready and the Keisers are ready,” she said. “We’re in a very good position to buy some very valuable land.”
The Board of Selectmen will vote on the proposal Monday night, and the issue will be put to a Town Meeting vote scheduled for Nov. 19.