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03/20/2023 08:15 AM

BOS Agrees to Pay for Yellowbook Appraisal for Horse Hill Road Property


At a meeting on March 14, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) voted to fund an appraisal of a property on Horse Hill Road that the town may eventually purchase.

According to the town Environmental Planner Heidi Wallace, “The property is located on the east side of Horse Hill Road, and connects to property that the town owns in Horse Hill Gorge.” While the town has an easement to talk to Horse Hill Gorge, there is not enough space to create parking.

However, the property the town is considering purchasing is 12.7 acres and “would easily accommodate a few parking spaces,” Wallace said.

Wallace told the Harbor News that the town and property owners have been discussing the property “for a couple of years.”

At the meeting on March 14, Wallace explained the property owners were open to talking about selling the property if the town paid for the Yellow Book’s appraisal on the property.

“A Yellow Book’s appraisal is the standard used for the acquisition of federal lands, which will likely be lower than market cost,” she said.

Wallace cautioned that the town is really only in preliminary stages of the acquisition process. Wallace told the board she could not guess on a timeline for when the appraisal would take place. She said that if the town were to move forward with an acquisition, she would look for federal grants to offset some of the cost.

The owners of the property, Steven and Frani Ross, said that the property was originally purchased by Frani’s grandfather in the 1930s. Steven Ross explained that the property was originally about 53 acres but about 28 were sold to the town at one point. The remaining 25 acres were divided into two parcels.

Ross said that none of their children or grandchildren were interested in building on the property, so the couple was interested in selling it to the town. “Frani and I want it to remain as is so the win-win is to sell it to the town as open space. This would enable them to put four or five spaces for parking,” Ross said.

Ross noted that the property offers beautiful views and ample wildlife viewing with two vernal pools and the ability to see where deer lay down to rest.

“Something to note is that the gorge is actually entirely located on this property. The open space currently owned by the town, named Horse Hill Gorge, starts on the east side of the gorge at the top of the hill overlooking the gorge,” said Ross.