Cappiellos pull plug on sale of farmland to town of Ballston
Family offended by remarks made at Town Board meeting
BALLSTON The proposed sale of 272 acres of the Cappiello Farm on Route 50 to the town of Ballston has been called off at the request of the family.
“The deal is off the table,” said Joan Pott, chairwoman of the town’s Farmland Protection and Preservation Committee.
Pott said Friday a statement would be read at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting indicating the family is apparently no longer interested in discussing the sale of the farmland to the town.
The Town Board unanimously agreed this week to support the land purchase by drawing up a proposed purchase agreement at Tuesday’s meeting and also setting a special election so the residents could vote on the proposal in late November.
Pott said Cappiello family members, some of whom attended last week’s public hearing on the proposed land sale, were hurt and offended by remarks made at the meeting by some members of the Town Board as well as the public.
The family initially offered the land to the town for $600,000, or $2,200 per acre. The price was later increased to $3,300 per acre, which is the price a certified agricultural land appraiser placed on the land. The offer excluded the house, barns and 14 surrounding acres.
Pott said the price of the land was not the issue with the family, because the front portion of the land is zoning for commercial use and could be sold for three times the agricultural per-acre price.
A letter from the Cappiello family was read at the end of Wednesday night’s Town Board meeting thanking the members of the town-appointed Farmland Protection and Preservation Committee for the work they have done in recent months “trying to put together a proposal that would be a win for the town of Ballston.”
“The Town Board has stopped every potential sale of our family’s land by refusing to openly and reasonably discuss development opportunities and then passing a development moratorium (approximately 2004-05),” the letter says.
“What did we do, we waited. And now, in accordance with the town’s own master plan, a proposal to purchase an enormous parcel of property at far below market value comes before the board and you say what?” the letter says.
“ ‘Oh No. This is happening too fast’, and actually accuse our family of holding a shotgun to your heads. Really? How dare you,” the letter says.
The letter says it “would have been lovely to have seen our family homeland preserved as open space or farmland or a recreational area — we were willing to make this our family legacy to this town and to trust that the town would use the gift wisely.”
Ballston town Supervisor Patti Southworth said Friday that even $3,300 per acre for the rolling farmland is an “exceptional price.”
“The property is their life’s work. The family feels like they have been taken advantage of,” she said.
She said she has heard that the family has been approached by another buyer ready to pay cash for a portion of the property.
Southworth said she feels “horrible” about the way the Cappiello family was treated at the two Town Board meetings. She said the comments and actions of some of her fellow board members were out of line.
“The Farmland Preservation and Protection Committee and I, as chairperson, want to publicly thank the Cappiello family for entertaining our proposal,” Pott said.
“We would also like to thank [town resident] Donald Rhodes for volunteering many hours of his time and professional expertise developing the plan and acting as facilitator between the committee, Realtor Margaret Phillips, the family, and the Town Board,” Pott said in a statement.
“We deeply regret not being able to complete the project but we are confident in the providential hand of God to preserve and protect that which he has created,” she said.