If you like happy endings, you’ll love the one to the Cappiello Farm saga. The landmark with the splendid view on Route 50 in the town of Ballston, in serious danger of being lost to development for the last 10 years or so, will be saved — and not just saved, but used as a working farm. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The development threat began in 2004, when the Cappiello family had a deal to sell the 289-acre parcel to businessman Victor Gush, who proposed building 800 luxury houses, apartments and condos, complete with horse barns. After a huge public outcry, he scaled the project back some, and eventually gave up on it in 2006. In 2009 there was another major housing proposal from another developer, but it never got past the conceptual stage.
Since then the farm has remained for sale, at a price of $2.7 million. And those who loved the beautiful rolling hillside, and the magnificent view of Ballston Lake and Vermont’s Green Mountains in the distance, remained nervous. Although the property was earmarked for protection in the town master plan, it was clear the town board had no interest in spending that kind of money to purchase it (or putting the issue to voters in a referendum).
Then, the town appeared to get lucky. A volunteer Farmland Protection and Preservation Committee was created, and some of its members formed a close relationship with the Cappiello family. Last fall the Cappiellos offered to sell all but 17 of the acres to the town for just $600,000, with the land to be used for recreation, open space and leasing to a farmer.
But they withdrew their offer in anger one day after a public meeting at which some Town Board members dragged their feet and offended them with their comments. A couple of days after that, they sold the property to an undisclosed party who apparently already had an offer on the table.
While there were fears that the buyer was a developer, there were also rumors that it was a farmer. And they, happily, turned out to be true. The farm will be used to raise grass-fed beef, with no growth hormones or antibiotics, as well as pigs and chickens.
So this is how the story ends — with everyone winning. The Cappiellos sold their farm for $1.05 million, more than they would have gotten from the town, but less than if they’d sold it to a developer. Members of the Farmland Protection Committee said the family was interested in a legacy to the town, and this is it: The farm and beloved view will be protected.
The Town Board almost screwed things up, but not quite. If it dawdles again when the next threatened parcel comes along, it might not be so lucky.