Selectmen give preliminary approval for Millstone Farm

The Board of Selectmen Nov. 6 gave preliminary approval, known as approval in principle, for a plan by the owners of Millstone Farm to obtain a conservation easement modification to build a horse riding facility.

The new owners, Mr. and Mrs. Volckert van Reesema, were spoken for at the meeting at the town hall annex by attorney Elliot Kaiman of Wiggin and Dana in New Haven, who promised that the equine facility would operate alongside the working farm, which supplies produce to local markets.

The farming is done largely in existing greenhouses on the property, Kaiman said.

“These greenhouses are important to farm use,” Kaiman said.

The 21,000-square-foot equine facility would be built on a portion of the property reserved for residential use. That is why a change to the conservation easement was needed.

For the Board of Selectmen, the only thing that remains to be done before a regular vote is to have the town attorney write the agreement so that the terms “farm” and “greenhouse” are clearly defined.

Kaiman explained that in April 2001, the farm was made subject to a conservation restriction in an agreement among the town, the Wilton Land Conservation Trust, and the owners at that time. The restriction separates the property in a reserved residential area and a non-reserved residential area. It primarily restricts the development and use of the non-reserved residential area.

The Wilton Land Conservation Trust expressed support for the equine facility plan.

The farm encompasses approximately 71 acres. The van Reesemas purchased the farm last fall from Betsy and Jesse Fink. When the Finks bought Millstone Farm in 2006 there was an existing horse operation, which Betsy Fink continued. During the 10 years they owned it, they turned the farm into a model of sustainable agriculture.

The van Reesemas will continue the agricultural activities on the farm, but will also bring back the equestrian component.