Ferrisburgh optimistic on land sale

FERRISBURGH — The Ferrisburgh selectboard has yet to find a buyer for the town-owned 34.9-acre parcel at the junction of Routes 7 and 22A, but it recently met in a half-hour executive session with one interested party.
Minutes of the Oct. 2 meeting indicate that the board met behind closed doors with, among others, property listing agent Matt Tedder of Pomerleau Real Estate and Chad Farrell of Encore Redevelopment.
According to its website, Encore is a Burlington firm with “a focus on 21st century solutions for underutilized property and new sources of community-scale alternative energy.”
The website shows several pictures of solar and wind projects, and states, among other things, that Encore provided management for the installation of the Northlands Job Corps wind turbine, has proposed a wind project in Derby, and has worked to install solar arrays at two Burlington schools.
No action was taken after the Oct. 2 executive session. Selectboard chairwoman Loretta Lawrence said this week that Tedder, as the listing agent, wanted the board to meet with Farrell to allow him to ask a number of questions about the property, which is listed for sale with Pomerleau for $375,000.
Citing confidentiality, Lawrence did not disclose those questions, but said she believed Farrell remains a potential purchaser.
Asked to describe his level of interest, Lawrence replied, “I guess interested to very interested,” but said no negotiations have taken place.
In general, she said Tedder told the selectboard other potential buyers have at least looked at the prominent property at what is also the northern gateway to Vergennes.
“He’s had inquiries,” Lawrence said. “We’re optimistic. There’s still interest, and people are asking (about it).”
The town did have one buyer, Montpelier’s Eastern Development Corp., who was willing to pay full price. But Eastern Development backed out in July after a marketing contingency was not met to the company’s satisfaction.
The selectboard at that point agreed to re-list the property with Tedder and Pomerleau, at least until Jan. 1.
Board members believe the land is marketable. The parcel is an open site with permitted wastewater capacity, level topography, high traffic volume, and easy access to rail transportation, and it is near two of the state’s busiest highways. It is zoned industrial, with retail uses conditionally permitted.
Of the land’s 34.9 acres, 23.3 acres are subject to conservation easements that allow only agricultural uses; some of that land is also wet. On the remaining 9.7 acres, other easements restrict its building envelope to 4.5 acres.
The board eventually hopes to use some of the sale proceeds to complete a $150,000 purchase of a home and 2 acres next to Ferrisburgh’s town offices and community center.
Under terms of that sale, former owners Donald and Patience Sisters are remaining in the home indefinitely. They are paying rent that starts at $500 a month for five years.
The mortgage for the property is costing a little less than $10,000 a year, officials said, and the town is paying a small amount for exterior maintenance. The Sisters’ rent is for the meantime covering $6,000 of those annual costs.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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