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What you need to know for 07/24/2017

Ballston Town Board blew it on Cappiello Farm

Ballston Town Board blew it on Cappiello Farm

Editorial: Members said they wanted to protect farm, but not enough to act

It seemed too good to be true last week when the town of Ballston had a chance to buy the Cappiello Farm on Route 50, a beautiful property under threat of development and whose protection is called for in the town’s master plan, for just $600,000, far less than it’s worth.

And that's how it turned out, as the Cappiellos withdrew their offer in anger a day after a public meeting at which the Town Board members dragged their feet and offended the family with their comments. Two days later the family accepted another offer on the property, one that apparently had been on the table all along.

That will almost certainly mean more money for the Cappiellos, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t sincere when they offered the property to the town for $600,000. The family had developed a good relationship with the volunteer members of the town’s Farmland Protection and Preservation Committee, which brokered the deal, and were willing to take less for the property as part of the family’s legacy to the town.

However, they quickly changed their minds when the Town Board, which had known the rough outline of the committee's plan for months and the details for days, dawdled and complained that the family, because it wanted quick action, was holding a gun to their heads. The board members all said they were for the deal and just wanted to be careful, but their words and action showed a lack of real commitment. They knew their delaying risked blowing it up, and that’s exactly what happened.

Despite their irresponsibility, they and the town may still get lucky. The offer the Cappiellos accepted was apparently from a farmer. If the property is used for farming, that could be even better than the committee’s plan, which called for part of it to be farmed, part used for recreation, and part to remain open space.

But there’s no guarantee that some or all of the land won’t be sold off for development now, or in the future. The board has kept that door open.

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