Some months back, the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) purchased development rights to an 8.5 acre blueberry farm in Warwick for $345,000. More recently, the state added 84.5 acres to the Arcadia Management Area in Richmond at a cost of $600,000.
The total land area that the state of Rhode Island has purchased for land preservation, including ownership of development rights, is 23,765 acres. In a state with 1,045 square miles of land area, that’s approximately 3.5%. The bulk of the money comes from federal grants and bonds approved by Rhode Island voters.
In the case of the blueberry farm, retiring owners Mark and Betty Garrison sought the state’s involvement to make the sale “feasible for the owners and affordable for the new buyers,” according to State Land Conservation Program Assistant Michelle Sheehan. Going forward, new construction will be forbidden, with the exception of farm-related buildings individually approved by the Agricultural Land Preservation Commission (ALPC).
In Arcadia, the sellers were members of the Windsor family — Audrey Greene, Priscilla Windsor, June Windsor, Franklin Windsor, and Carolyn Smith. Franklin retained 3.2 acres around the house that he shares with his wife, Susan.