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Select Panel Will Guide Future of Weston Farm

WESTON, Conn. – The task of drawing up a master plan for the town-owned Lachat property will be placed in the hands of a seven-member select committee. That's what the Board of Selectmen decided unanimously Thursday following a discussion of community ideas for the property and what next steps the town may take.

Amy Kafala and Ellen McCormick, representing the Friends of Lachat and the town’s Sustainability Committee, presented a “vision” for an organic working farm on the lower portion of the property.

Kafala said a working farm could teach young people in town about sustainable agriculture and a provide a place where the community could get together for cultural events.

Kafala added that the Weston Garden Club could provide landscaping, plant vegetables, restore the apple and blueberry orchards and vineyard and create a pumpkin patch. She also suggested creating a dog park.

She added that there could also be chickens and other livestock for eggs and milk to be sold on the farm.

Kafala said the project could be funded by state grants and donations from Friends of Lachat, which has already raised $78,000 for the proposal.

“This could be addressed step by step as it progresses,” she said. “All of these things could potentially be embraced and bring the community together.”

McCormick said a petting zoo could also be included in the plans, noting animals could be “rented” seasonally.

Mark Harper, the town’s animal control officer, took issue with the dog park based on what he has seen in other towns such as Westport.

His concerns are that dogs carry disease, the liability to the town and that unleashed pets could end up missing in the Devil’s Den sanctuary. He added the town presently does not have a leash law and would have to pass one.

“The dog park would present home, health, safety and policing issues,” he said.

Harper said the 20-acre property has not been maintained and would require a controlled burn to restore. He said following maintenance, the public should be invited to look at the property to pique interest in the proposals.

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said all of the suggestions for the property are “very exciting.”

Selectman David Glenn Miller agreed that the proposals are “wonderful” ideas. “These are very attractive components,” he said.

Carol Baldwin, a member of the Friends of Lachat Farm, and Robert Hatch, an architect, presented an assessment of the farm house. They said the south wall is caving in, requiring structural repairs, with costs in the range of $29,000 to $37,000.

Miller, who made the motion for the committee, agreed, but did not rule out hiring an outside company to manage the project in the future.

“We may find a third party will do that better, but not at this point,” he said.

Weinstein said a mission statement for the committee would be prepared and addressed at the board’s next meeting.

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