Two pieces of property on Jacob’s Lane will be getting their due recognition in the next few weeks. Neighbors on that street have been curious about the signs Bethel Land Trust is putting up on forested land that has been growing undisturbed, and unannounced, since 1997.
One neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, was concerned about the property and thought this was a new designation for the Land Trust. She asked, “Where did the money come from to purchase this property? Did we buy this land when we are laying off teachers?”
The two pieces of property were given to the Bethel Land Trust when the property faced development.
“Part of the development was set aside. It is basically a requirement to give land or put money in a fund to buy land. Subdivisions are required to do that. Planning and Zoning can request as much as 10 percent of the land when a subdivision is going in,” John O’Neil of the Bethel Land Trust said.
Looking at the original documents, Beth Cavagna, Bethel Inland Wetlands Commission, said that the two lot sizes are 4.4 acres and 10.62 acres, and that both contain wetlands. “There was a lot of concern about those wetlands before the subdivision was built,” Cavagna said. “It’s a beautiful forested area that was part of the subdivision.”
Both pieces of property abut other land held by the Bethel Land Trust, according to O’Neil. “One adjoins Putnam Park and the other adjoins Van Campen Lane off of Sunset,” he said.
O’Neil said that besides the signs, there are no new plans for the property. While people can walk in there, O’Neil said that the land is not really conducive for hiking, and, “It’s overgrown with thorny rosa mulitflora, and they would have to go hacking through it.”
There are also wetlands but many of them are dry now because of the lack of rain. Still, O’Neil said that walkers should be aware that it does get seasonally wet. “Skunk cabbage is an indication of wetlands, as is mounded grass,” he said, remarking that before this year, he could never get through wetland areas without boots.
The Bethel Land Trust holds about 235 acres, with the largest parcel being 72 acres in the nearby Wolfpits area. The Franc property, recently purchased by the town, is not in the Land Trust. “Many of the bigger pieces of land are not protected in any way,” O’Neil said, adding that the mountain behind the Francis Clarke Industrial Center could one day be developed. “It could conceivably happen, though right now we are putting a trail in there.”
O’Neil said that the Land Trust will be doing a hike to explore the Franc property on June 3. To find out more, check the Bethel Land Trust Facebook or their website, at www.bethellandtrust.org.