Update on Angino Farm: Spring 2005
Steps to complete the acquisition of Angino Farm, a 2.25-acre historic property, are continuing, with good progress made on some fronts but unfortunate delays on others. Among the good news is preliminary acceptance by the State Department of Environmental Protection of the conservation restriction that will be held by the Newton Conservators, as required for all purchases using CPA funds. The Conservators recently reviewed and signed the CR and it next goes before the Board of Aldermen to be formally considered and accepted by the city.
This is a critical step since the city has determined that the transaction cannot be brought to a close without this preliminary approval. With this acceptance by the state, the actual purchase of the farm from the Angino family looks likely to be achieved in May, as originally hoped.
Two other steps are off schedule. The most important is creation of a Farm Commission to set policy for and oversee operation of the farm. A committee of aldermen, representatives of the mayor and of interested groups, including the Farm Group and the Community Preservation Committee, is drafting an ordinance to enable this Commission. The composition of the Commission and its precise duties and responsibilities are under discussion and some additional time will be required to get agreement.
Once agreement is reached, the draft ordinance will go to the Board of Aldermen, where it will first be reviewed in committee (most likely the Committee on Community Preservation). They have indicated they will hold a hearing to obtain public input about the shape and mission of the Farm Commission. Any changes will be worked out, and it will then go to the full Board for consideration. This process will likely take several weeks.
When the ordinance is passed, it must be signed by the Mayor and a twenty-day period for appeals must pass. Then members of the Commission will be selected, appointed and approved and the work of the group can commence. Initial activity will center on the nature of the working relationship between the farm and the city. Assuming the Commission decides to contract with a nonprofit farm group, a contract will need to be drafted and approved. Policies will be developed and other details worked out. It is now quite clear that these steps will not be completed in time for this year's planting season.
A second issue involves re-zoning of the property. This step is also off schedule and requires Board of Aldermen approval, but is not on the critical path. Some work on the buildings and other preparatory work on the land itself may be possible this year, but the reality is that the farm will not be up and running until the spring of 2006.
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