Open Space & Recreation Plan
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SECTION 8 - GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
GOAL 1: Preserve Rural Character
Through Zoning and Other Regulation
- Analyze the impact of existing zoning on rural character.
Use more creative approaches to ensure that development
occurs in ways compatible with the rural character.
- Locate and rate scenic views.
- Investigate and implement a scenic roads bylaw to protect
the areas immediately adjacent to roadways.
- Protect fields and ensure they are kept open wherever
- Establish a site plan review district around the Ashby
Historic District to maintain the scale and form of the
- Consider other historic sites for preservation.
- Use building envelopes to protect views, areas of
significant vegetation, or historic importance.
- Identify and map the town's historic resources.
- Keep rate of growth moderate through growth rate controls
and land acquisition.
- Encourage agriculture by assisting farmers to take
advantage federal and State Department of Agriculture
programs that are designed to help maintain family farms.
- Encourage agricultural preservation zoning to allow
farmers to preserve prime agricultural land while they
continue to get value from their land.
- Campaign on the value of wetlands and surface waters.
GOAL 2: Protect Natural Resources
Through Land Acquisition and Protection:
- Analyze and rate parcels for potential acquisition with
emphasis toward providing the Selectmen and the
townspeople the information they need to make reasoned
- Support the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in their
efforts to acquire rights to Mount Watatic.
- Establish links and wildlife corridors between protected
- Work with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in the
Gilchrist property purchase.
- Pursue an effort to acquire the Western Middlesex Stock
Farm, which is currently for sale.
- Maintain an active status log of all land under Chapter
61, Chapter 61A and Chapter 61B and be aware of when land
comes up for chapter renewal.
- Develop sources for funding for acquisition of land.
- Identify and contact land trusts and other organizations
whose purpose is to preserve open space to make them
aware of land in town that may meet their criteria.
- Assist owners of large parcels to explore the
possibilities available to them for limiting development
in sensitive areas of their property.
- Consider creative zoning tools such as reduced frontage,
large-acreage lots, open space zoning and others to
manage overall development in town.
- Assist landowners who have already come forward wanting
to protect their land.
Through Water Resource Protection
- Establish and coordinate policies and information between
regulatory boards with respect to work to be performed in
or near wetland buffer districts.
- Consider a wetland protection bylaw.
- Consider reduced development along brooks to provide
- Identify and protect known or potential aquifer areas for
- Preserve large areas around the headwaters of major
- Preserve buffer zones along perennial streams through
strict enforcement of the Rivers Protection Act.
- Restrict development on steep slopes through changes in
- Create a policy to require that natural vegetation be
left intact within buffer zones through special language
on Orders of Condition.
- Develop a program of stream monitoring, combined with a
completed inventory of all streams and tributaries in
Through the Protection of Strategic
- Identify and certify vernal pools.
- Identify existing wildlife corridors.
- Preserve and protect habitat boundary zones such as
woodland to water or field to maximize biodiversity.
Through Maintenance and Stewardship
GOAL 3: Increase
Availability and Variety of Recreation
Programs and Facilities
- Work with state and local authorities to oversee logging
- Encourage increased state maintenance of the three
bridges along Valley Road.
- Establish a fund to support stewardship efforts.
- Establish a maintenance schedule for existing recreation
facilities and a capital plan for increasing facilities
as Ashbys population increases.
- Refurbish the tennis and basketball courts.
- Add winter sports facilities to existing summer
facilities, especially low cost facilities such as
outdoor ice-skating and cross-country skiing.
- Coordinate recreation programs with school programs to
gain greater synergy.
- Renovate Allen Field
- Acquire flat land for future active recreation needs.
- Develop a trail system that will connect protected
parcels of land and existing trails.
- Investigate the feasibility of using old town road rights
of way for winter and summer trails.
- Encourage developers to set aside land for parks,
playgrounds, and open space.
- Work with developers to provide easements for trails.
- Publicize, map, and use signs to identify existing
- Work with existing organizations to maintain trails and
construct new trails.
- Improve public access to waterways.
GOAL 4: Educate
Residents About the Financial, Ecological
and Personal Value of Open Space
GOAL 5: Collaborate
to Achieve Regional Integration
- Stress the financial value to residents and the town of
open space preservation.
- Identify conservation easements - what they are, how they
work, why use them.
- Explain the advantages of the Chapter 61 laws.
- Explore land use options and alternatives to selling land
- Coordinate with regional agencies and work with the
school system to spread the information.
GOAL 6: Begin
Active Protection of Key Open Spaces
- Coordinate with Department of Fish and Wildlife as well
as the Department of Environmental Management to provide
wildlife corridors and contiguous protected parcels
- Protect parcels abutting Valley Road.
- Work with the Nashua River and Souhegan River Watershed
Associations to improve communications and protect
streams in the watershed.
- Work with the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission
and abutting towns to coordinate land use and protection.
- Work with the Department of Environmental Management and
other state agencies to gain expertise to assist in
- Promote inter-town collaboration for trail systems.
Current Land Acquisition or Protection
In our survey, the two specific places most often mentioned
for protection were Mount Watatic and the Western Middlesex Stock
Farm. The first task of the Open Space and Recreation Committee
after completing this draft plan is to systematically rank
specific parcels for protection. We expect to have this
information included in the final document. In the meantime, four
areas stand out as top priorities for protection or acquisition.
- We should support the Department of Fisheries and
Wildlife in their efforts to acquire rights to Mount
Because of its size and mixed woodlands, old orchards and
open hay fields, the Stock Farm supports a wide variety
of wildlife. Migrating woodcock and geese stop there;
bear, moose, and deer pass through; and it provides a
home to a great variety of songbirds, porcupines, rabbits
and other creatures. Two small streams originate on the
property and form part of the headwaters of Trapfall
Brook. Another stream traverses the property. The parcel
contains some isolated wetlands and several little ponds
and abuts a 13-acre parcel owned by the Department of
Fisheries and Wildlife.
- We should make an effort to acquire the Western Middlesex
Stock Farm and the parcels adjacent to it as they become
available. In many ways the Stock Farm represents the
heart of rural Ashby. The parcel is the largest single
open space parcel in the center of town. This piece of
property was once part of a large holding extending from
the Piper Road farm to the New Hampshire border. Many
residents remember picking strawberries and blueberries
at the farm. The easy hike up Caton Hill has been a
favorite picnic destination for families for many years.
As discussed in the Inventory
of Recreation Interests section of this document,
residents are most interested in hiking, cross-country
skiing and other forms of informal recreation. Because of
its size, variety of landforms, ease of access, and its
location near the center of town and the elementary
school, the Western Middlesex Stock Farm is an ideal
place to begin developing Ashbys passive recreation
- Its historic town center and the open fields surrounding
it define much of the character of Ashby. The town center
is zoned as residential with smaller lot size and
frontage requirements, allowing a higher density of
housing than in the residential/agricultural zone.
Residents in the center are already experiencing problems
with water and septic. Protecting land through easements
or acquisition in this area of town should be a priority.
- A number of residents have approached members of the Open
Space and Recreation Committee about donating land to the
town or to a private conservation organization, or they
have expressed the desire to work with the town to
protect their land from unwanted development. Working
with these interested landowners is a high priority.
Open Space & Recreation Plan
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