WILLIAMSTOWN -- Members of the Agricultural Commission have agreed to support efforts to solve the town's affordable housing problem, but also to oppose building on land used for agriculture, including the Lowry property.
"We should be up front in our support for affordable housing, but also for the preservation of farmland," commission member Kim Wells said.
The decision to draft a formal position came after hearing a report by Wells, the liaison to the Affordable Housing Committee, at Thursday night's meeting. Wells updated other commission members on recent AHC meetings he attended.
Wells expressed concern over how the proposed road leading up to the Lowry property -- via a 50 foot right of way -- goes over what he thinks is a vernal pool, a habitat for sensitive plants and animals.
"You'd be running a road over very wet land, and I'm not even sure you could build on that," Wells said.
"I support affordable housing, and I think there's many ways we can approach it," Wells said. "But I don't see any way we should sacrifice existing agricultural land."
By suggestion of commission member Sarah Gardner, the draft will read that the commission is in favor of affordable housing on sites such as PhoTech and the old town garage on Water Street, and in favor of preserving all farmland.
"I hope we can all work together to find another solution outside of taking the Lowry out of agricultural use and conservation," commission chair Beth Phelps said.
The Lowry property is currently being considered by the town for the relocation of The Spruces Mobile Home Park residents into housing built on the site through a pending $6.25 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant. The plan would see The Spruces demolished, with interested current residents and those displaced by Tropical Storm Irene relocated to Irene Cottages on the Lowry property.
In other business, Phelps announced Right to Farm signs had been erected on routes 7 and 43, and North Hoosac Road.
The placing of such signs were one of the commission's goals for 2012. The signs are meant to signify Williamstown allows farming activity within its limits. Phelps thanked Town Manager Peter Fohlin, along with Timothy Kaiser, Scott Park and Christopher Lemoine, of the Department of Public Works, for their involvement.
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