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Developer donates 203 acres on Mt. Equinox

The tract, given away by Rocking Stone Farm LLC, includes part of the ridgeline between Mount Equinox and Little Equinox, where a proposal for five 390-foot wind turbines is being debated locally.

MANCHESTER — A local developer is donating a 203-acre parcel of land on the eastern slope of Mount Equinox to the Vermont chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

The tract, given away by Rocking Stone Farm LLC, includes part of the ridgeline between Mount Equinox and Little Equinox, where a proposal for five 390-foot wind turbines is being debated locally.

Rocking Stone acquired 300 acres in 2004 intending to develop the lower portion of the parcel and 12 single residences and 12 townhouses are planned for the site, according to a statement for the Nature Conservancy.

The decision about what to do with the remaining acreage evolved over time, said Tom Harmon, one of the principals of Rocking Stone.

"We were going to leave it in a natural state," he said. "As we learned more about it we realized we needed someone who knew what they were doing to be stewards of this land."

That stewardship will include protecting a rare species of bat — known as the Indiana bat — that maintains a habitat near the land Harmon and his business partner Neil Joseph have donated, Harmon said.

The Nature Conservancy is well equipped to determine whether or not the wind turbine proposal poses... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
MANCHESTER — A local developer is donating a 203-acre parcel of land on the eastern slope of Mount Equinox to the Vermont chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

The tract, given away by Rocking Stone Farm LLC, includes part of the ridgeline between Mount Equinox and Little Equinox, where a proposal for five 390-foot wind turbines is being debated locally.

Rocking Stone acquired 300 acres in 2004 intending to develop the lower portion of the parcel and 12 single residences and 12 townhouses are planned for the site, according to a statement for the Nature Conservancy.

The decision about what to do with the remaining acreage evolved over time, said Tom Harmon, one of the principals of Rocking Stone.

"We were going to leave it in a natural state," he said. "As we learned more about it we realized we needed someone who knew what they were doing to be stewards of this land."

That stewardship will include protecting a rare species of bat — known as the Indiana bat — that maintains a habitat near the land Harmon and his business partner Neil Joseph have donated, Harmon said.

The Nature Conservancy is well equipped to determine whether or not the wind turbine proposal poses a threat to the survival of the Indiana bat, Harmon said.

"If there is a danger the Nature Conservancy will be able to put a better foot forward than I would," he said.

"The donation had nothing to do with the windmills — the Nature Conservancy are simply the right people to protect the bats and rare plants there."

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that approximately 300 bats hibernate in Skinner Hollow cave, which is near to the land covered by the donation. That cave, plus another one nearby, are two of only three caves in all of Vermont known to harbor wintering Indiana bats, according to the Conservancy.

Rocking Stone's donation includes land between Skinner Hollow and Cooks Hollow, according to Tuesday's announcement.

According to the Conservancy, the Equinox range is also home to one of the largest areas of northern hardwood trees in New England. There is also a wide diversity of plants on the mountain, they stated.

The conservancy also recently acquired a 22-acre parcel near Beartown Road in Manchester, not far from the Rocking Stone parcel, bringing the total number of acres under protection to more than 1,800, they said.

That is in addition to more than 800 acres under the protection of conservation easements that are part of the Equinox Preservation Trust.

The housing project itself has cleared local permit hurdles and is under construction, said Manchester's Planning director Lee Krohn.

The outright donation of the land is a positive step for region, which will help protect an important landmark of Manchester, he said.

"It certainly fits with the goals of the town plan, which is to keep the land intact," he said. "Our goal is to work with local landowners — we don't want to impose on anyone."

Source: http://www.rutlandherald.co...

JAN 11 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/937-developer-donates-203-acres-on-mt-equinox
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