Casco keeps conservation lots

 

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — There is so much promise in an undeveloped piece of land.

So is the case with two parcels of tax-acquired properties on Heath Road, near Thompson Lake.

The Casco Open Space Commission (OSC) views these parcels as valuable for conservational reasons — whether the lots are developed into quaint low-impact parks or left alone for water preservation purposes.

The Casco Board of Selectmen agreed with that recommendation during its meeting on Tuesday. The Town of Casco will retain owernship of these two lots instead of selling the land along with almost 30 tax-acquired lots that are being put out to bid.

OSC Chairman Eric Dibner described the Heath Road lots to the selectmen. Also, during the workshop prior to the meeting, Dibner opened the door to a more encompassing question: How can the community manage town-owned parcels that are kept for natural conservation?

Heath Road is located near Thompson Lake. This fall, the town did some road repair work on Heath Road, including the replacement of a culvert.

There is much promise for the Heath Road properties since they were part of a subdivision approved by the Casco Planning Board years ago. Therefore, engineers took soil samples for septic feasibility, and there is enough acreage for the proper setbacks.

Dibner and OSC members took a site walk on the parcels. “We looked at some nice lots, but they are small. Without some acreage to it, it doesn’t lend itself to open space uses” in the way most people think of it, Dibner said. “But, it could be for recreational use,” he said.

Water quality issues might be the main reason for the town to keep the properties in the Thompson Lake watershed, he said. “Scenic value is important too. And, it has that,” he added.

“There have been improvements on the land, but it is not very park-like. There could be some access and a place to sit or walk in and go fishing,” Dibner said.

The board intends to do more research into the covenants, as the town will have to abide by those as the owner of the land.

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