High Mowing is proud to call the Town of Wilton a partner in our effort to protect this beautiful piece of land. Home to diverse wildlife, rich soils, and vital water sources, this land is representative of the beautiful, rural qualities for which Wilton prides itself. In keeping with that respect for nature, Wilton residents decided in March to support High Mowing's effort to conserve these 154 acres on Abbot Hill.
Early in 2014 High Mowing and its partners decided to approach the Wilton Conservation Comission for the support of the town. But appropriating such funds required the passage of a warrant article, all of which must be voted on during Town Meeting.
In the lead-up to the Town Meeting, many Wilton residents and High Mowing community members wrote to local papers encouraging their neighbors to vote for Warrant Article 13—to appropriate up to $80,000 from the Town of Wilton towards the purchase of the conservation easements on 155 acres of land on top of Abbot Hill. Ian McSweeney also led an Information Session at the Wilton Town Library in early March to answer questions from residents about the logistics of the project.
More than 300 people attended Wilton Town Hall Meeting. Many of the warrant articles were routine: capital improvements, repairs to town buildings, and approval for highway maintenance. The warrant articles were presented, a representative would speak about its merits, and then the Wilton residents would vote. Each item took 10 minutes, tops.
Warrant Article 13 took far longer.
Image courtsey of city-dat.com
The debate was kicked off by Wilton Selectman Kermit Williams, who won a write-in campaign for Selectman two days prior. He spoke about the many benefits of conserving this land and focused specifically on the bargain for Wilton residents: by contributing $80,000, about 4.5% of the project’s total cost, the town would secure the benefits of the conservation easement without taking on any of the legal responsibility for upholding the terms of that easement.
“Over the years, we have chosen to set aside other natural areas as they became available,” Williams said. “That natural beauty and rural character is one of the reasons people come here to live.”
High Mowing alumnus and longtime Wilton resident Alexis Pittman ’77 also spoke in favor of the project, and stressed that conserving 155 acres on top of Abbott Hill would benefit all residents of Wilton. Other supporters included Andrew Kennedy of the Temple-Wilton Community Farm and Stanley Young of the Wilton Heritage Commission.
After about an hour of lively discussion a motion was made to end debate and vote. Like all other warrant articles, it needed only a simple majority.
It passed, 220-91.
By supporting this project, Wilton residents have contributed to the conservation of 88 acres farmland soils, pristine forests, four of seven Well Head Protection Areas, and 800+ feet of Souhegan River Frontage. Passage of the article allows for public access and passive recreation in perpetuity. The Town of Wilton, by virtue of supporting the project, is now a partner in the holding of the easements, meaning they too have oversight rights.