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Vermont Land Trust Seeks Proposals for Bluffside Farm in Newport, VT

www.vlt.org/bluffside-rfc

The Vermont Land Trust has issued a Requests for Concepts for people interested in purchasing the Bluffside Farm in Newport. The goal for this open space property is to serve the community needs expressed by local residents during multiple public meetings and property tours. 

Vermont Land Trust has heard strong interest from the community in seeing the farm becoming a productive, working farm again. Other priorities mentioned by residents include welcome public access to the woodlands, trails, and the beach along Lake Memphremagog.  Several people mentioned they would like to see community activities or outdoor education offered, direct marketing of local food, or partnerships with other organizations such as schools or hospitals.

The Bluffside Farm is 129 acres—the largest remaining agricultural property in Newport City—along Bluff Road and Scott Farm Road in Newport. There is a natural sand beach along Lake Memphremagog, which is quite unusual to find in Vermont and ecologically sensitive. The farm’s lakefront is very visible from downtown Newport as one looks across the water.

Formerly a dairy, the farm was owned by the Scott family for five generations; it was most recently used for horses. The Vermont Land Trust purchased the land before it went to auction in December, 2015. Throughout 2016, the land trust held three public meetings and five property tours to understand how Newport residents would like to see the land put to good use. Discussions centered on the farm’s natural and cultural resources, agricultural and food production capabilities, and possible recreational and educational opportunities.

The farm will be sold to a qualified buyer with a strong plan for the property. The land trust seeks applicants with demonstrated experience that relates to the proposed operation, and a plan for the property that establishes a working farm that is actively engaged with, and supportive of, community needs. Please visit www.vlt.org/bluffside-rfc for more information.

A conservation easement will be placed on the property at the time of sale; this legal document will restrict development in order to protect farmland and important natural, recreational, and scenic features. The easement will allow additional farm structures to be built, including farm labor housing if necessary. It will ensure public access in perpetuity to a proposed future bike path, walking trails along the bluffs and beach area, and a paddlers’ campsite.

The value of the development rights will be subtracted from the total purchase price so that the incoming buyer can purchase the land at its agricultural value, which is more affordable for working farmers. 

An open house for prospective buyers to see the buildings and infrastructure will be held on March 18, 2017 from 10 am to 2 pm. If unable to attend the open house, potential buyers should contact Tracy Zschau at (802) 745-6301 or tracy@vlt.org. All are welcome to walk the property on their own, in keeping with the public access guidelines posted in the parking area and on VLT’s website at www.vlt.org/bluffsidefarm.