The Eagle Holt Co. and Tweedy & Barnes Co. are sellingnearly 100 acres of land here to the town of Marion. The locallybased Sippican Lands Trust will buy another 10-acre river lot whilethe Trust and the state will hold conservation restrictions on theremaining 160 acres. These restrictions will prevent development onthe property, but will allow cranberry operations.

Mark Rasmussen, executive director of the Coalition for BuzzardsBay, did not return calls by presstime but he is quoted as sayingthat this deal demonstrates that cranberry growers do not have tosell to developers or to develop the land to make a profitabledeal. The Coalition helped arrange the deal. Unconfirmed reportsplace the value of the deal at $1.6 million.

A state law--Chapter 61A-- provides owners of agricultural landwith a tax break to encourage farming. But when those owners wantthe land to revert to another use, they must give themunicipality--or whomever it appoints, such a land trust--the rightof first refusal on that property. The problem for land trusts hasbeen that the offer made must be met within a specific time frame.Most towns or land trusts don't have the time to come up with themoney for the deal in time. In this case, the Trust contacted thecranberry growers first and, with the Coalition, hammered out thedeal that was favorable to both parties.

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