Council OKs Signing Conservation Land Purchase Contract with Hicks

The Town Council heard from Conservation Commissioner Paul Nickerson regarding the proposed purchase of about 12 acres of woodland at 112 High Range Road, which is being offered to the town for $60,000 by the Hicks family.

“I’m by training a wildlife biologist and I’ve been to the Plummer tract several times for monitoring and I’ve always looked enviously at the Hicks tract because it is such a beautiful piece of conservation land,” Nickerson told the Council on Monday night. “We came by this through one of our monitoring excursions. Dan Hicks approached several of us and said essentially, ‘I’d like to sell you this piece of property for $60,000.’ We all thought this is too good to be true, given the price of land here in Londonderry.”
Nickerson said he had no background in real estate and the matter was referred to the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), which assists the Town Council and Conservation Commission during the negotiating process to acquire conservation land. An appraisal was ordered and came back “more than double what we were going to pay for it,” Nickerson said.
He said that in August the JNC authorized acquisition by unanimous vote and the Conservation Commission held a public hearing Sept. 10 and voted to recommend acquisition to the Town Council, also by unanimous vote.
Nickerson said the purchase and sales agreement has been signed by all members of the Hicks family.
Councilor Tom Dolan said some wording should be changed in the purchase and sales agreement.
“The words ‘purchase the easement interest’ should be changed to ‘purchase the property interest’ and on page 5, which is one of the signature pages, I’d like to take the Conservation Commission off and add Town Manager in place of the Conservation Commission,” Dolan said. “We have recently been advised that only the Town Manager and the Town Council can sign contracts.”
Councilor Joe Green said they should be looking at putting a stewardship plan into effect before acquiring any additional land, but Conservation Commission Chairman Deb Lievens said such a plan was already in effect.
Councilor Jim Butler asked about parking and whether people would have to park on High Range Road to use the property.
“We talked about that and at this point, no. It is hard to imagine what the demand will be,” Nickerson said.
Councilor Tom Freda suggested a word change in that the purchase and sales agreement called the seller the grantor, when there were six signatures on the signature page. He said the document refers to a single grantor in one paragraph and plural grantors but should reflect multiple grantors consistently.
Freda noted the contract states the buyer would have the right to have the premises environmentally tested, and asked whether such tests were conducted.
“No, it’s very clean,” Nickerson said. “I’ve been over to that property numerous times and I’m very comfortable saying that we don’t have to worry about environmental contaminants on that property.”
Dan Hicks, one of the owners of the property, said the parcel had been a woodland for the last 100 years.
Dolan moved that the Town Council recommend that the Town Manager and the Town Council Chair sign the purchase and sales agreement with the suggested wording amendments, with a second by Green. The vote was unanimous to sign the document.

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