I would like to encourage residents of Marion to support the Hoff project and come, if possible, to the Fall Town Meeting at ORRHS on November 5 at 6:45 pm. You may have seen concerns about the value of this land to the town, particularly the financial impacts. First, if we are looking at saving our town from the impact of large tax burdens, it’s important to see the scale of this property. One estimate is that all this land will amount to a dollar extra in yearly taxes for a house valued at $500,000. With all articles, we would gain over 43 acres and protect key benefits of already preserved land that is integral to our town’s character. In addition, the impact on services from the likely three houses that could have been crammed into the upland portions are likely to cost more than the additional tax revenue they produce. The land deal relies on donation of conservation restrictions by private landowners and contributions from a nonprofit; it does not raise any new revenue to pay for this deal.
I hope that we will see ourselves as community members of Marion and not just taxpayers. Marion is a place we hold in common and need to protect for a common future. Hoff is one of the parcels that helps make Marion unique. It is currently covered in healthy hardwood forest and wetlands. The woods protect sections of two streams. These streams rely on this area for recharge and runoff control. It is recognized as part of an important landscape to protect listed species. We will also be investing in the future ability of the town to adapt to changes in where habitats might be in town, and where storms can be buffered. We should value it for all of these contributions.
In addition, the Hoff Reservation is an important piece of a larger valuable feature of our town. The stretch of over 700 acres of protected forest and wetlands from Route 6 to the interstate highway is unique. Organizations like the Sippican Lands Trust and the Buzzards Bay Coalition, along with the state and town, have worked cooperatively to protect parcels that link together to protect much of the largest undeveloped area of Marion. The state recognizes the unique, unfragmented area for its opportunities to sustain many valuable natural communities and species in its BioMap2 project and in mapping endangered species habitat. This means protection for the endangered species and also protection of the many players in the complex community of life that makes the area stable and productive.
The unfragmented “Aucoot Woods” also represents a chance for Marion residents to experience an everyday connection to the natural environment. As a society, we are becoming more aware of the benefits to good health – both long-term physical and mental health – when we can connect in a meaningful way to natural features in our lives. Studies show that people who have at least 20 minutes in a natural area have a much better health status. Thanks to all the work dozens of people over the years have done protecting land that we can visit frequently. Our kids can grow up still able to muck around in the woods and chase frogs in protected parcels where the spring choruses are nearly deafening. You can find cellar holes of old pump houses and hunting cabins, see migrating flocks of ducks, clouds of black birds, and find tracks of many critters. You can also get out often to where the noise fades, walking near the edge of actual silence where your attention isn’t pulled by a lawnmower or an angry radio. We need some of these areas without development cutting into them.
You can support the preservation of this property by donating to the Hoff property on the Sippican Lands Trust page. Also, please talk with your Marion friends and neighbors and encourage their safe attendance and support of articles 5 through 8 at the town meeting on Nov 5 at 6:45 pm.
Alan Harris, Marion
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