Published October 02. 2012 4:00AM
Stonington - The Stonington Land Trust has bought 82 acres of land off Taugwonk Road from Pfizer for $350,000 thanks to an anonymous donor who funded the purchase price.
The closing on the property was held last Thursday, according to land trust vice president Stanton Simm.
He said the land trust had worked on acquiring the property for the past two years. The land had originally been placed on the market for $1.6 million.
"We consider this a bargain sale," said Stuart Cole, a member of the land trust's board of directors.
"In many ways this is a critical property for the land trust. It is one of the largest undeveloped pieces of property left in the Anguilla Brook watershed corridor," Simm said.
"We're just happy we were able to work out an agreement."
Preserving the Anguilla Brook corridor has been a priority for the land trust since its inception and it has now been able to preserve several properties in that area. Simm said preservation of the Pfizer property has been a priority for the town's Conservation Commission for many years.
Simm said the property, which is located along the east side of Taugwonk Road about a mile north of Interstate 95, contains 25 acres of hay fields along with a wooded area to the rear which is important for wildlife, he said.
There is also small barn on the property, which also is part of the Stony Brook watershed.
Cole said the land trust will continue to use the field for hay farming while Simm said the Elm Restoration Society has planted disease resistant trees on the property which it then transplants in other areas.
Simm said Pfizer once used the property to grow vegetables using various fertilizers in the 1970s.
About 30 acres of the property is zoned for light industrial use which means it could have be developed for uses such as warehouses, offices and research and development. The rest of the land is zoned residential and requires a minimum of three acres to build a house.
Cole said that while the property won't be generally open to the public because it is a wildlife preserve, groups will be invited to tour the site.
Simm said the land will be named the Thomas Miner preserve in honor of one of the town's first residents, whose descendants owned the property in the 1700s.
Since its inception in 2007, the land trust has acquired five parcels and helped preserve two others. Earlier this year it purchased 18 acres in the Anguilla Brook corridor for $36,000.
Simm said the land trust is now looking at acquiring additional properties.