Town adds Mabee Farm to protected property

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:51

    WARWICK-The Mabee farm has been in the family for three generations, going back to 1921. Last week, Raymond and Carol Mabee ensured that the land would stay just as it is - open and green - for many generations to come. The Town of Warwick and The Scenic Hudson Land Trust closed last week on the development rights to the 74-acre farm, located on Lower Wisner Road in Bellvale. The total cost was $477,300, with the state contributing $259,113, Scenic Hudson chipping in $59,662.50 and the town giving $158,524.50 from its own Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) fund. The farm is traversed by the Long House Creek and sits on one of the largest underground aquifers in Orange County, according to Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton. "This aquifer supplies many homes in our valley as well as containing the wells that serve the Village of Warwick," Sweeton said. This farm connects two portions of the already-preserved farm of Al and Judy Buckbee, bringing the total of preserved farmland in Bellvale to more than 500 acres. With two large subdivisions in the planning process — BCM and The Gables totaling 60 homes, and Foxwood Estates adding another 14 homes — preserving this farmland in this tiny hamlet of about 100 homes is sure to make many residents happy. Ray Mabee was born and raised in Warwick. He learned to live by his parents' example, said Sweeton, notably their hard work, practical minds and love of the land and their animals. Mabee sold off his dairy cows four years ago, but continues to produce hay for other farmers. It was at the urging of his two daughters that Mabee sold off the development rights of the farm, saying they never wanted the farm growing houses instead of hay. "The farm has exceptional soils — 66 acres of farmland of statewide importance and six acres of prime farmland," said Cari Watkins-Bates, farmland protection manager for Scenic Hudson. "In addition, natural and scenic resources associated with and complimentary to the agriculture assets of the property have also been protected. As the town notes — this farm is an integral property to complimentary farmland protection efforts in the area." A town-wide referendum in 2000 gave the town the go-ahead to purchase the development rights to properties in an effort to maintain open space. Voters approved $9.5 million of town funds for this purpose. The Greenwood Lake/Tuxedo School District, which has no farmland, is receiving 24 percent, Florida is slated for 14 percent and Warwick gets the remaining 62 percent. The town has already purchased a ball field and a 2.9 acre lakefront property in Greenwood Lake, which opened in July 2004 as a new town beach. The town's PDR program so far has preserved seven farms, a total of more than 850 acres of farmland, in the Town of Warwick. Five others are in the process of preservation, including the Brown and Brady properties, bringing the total acreage up to 2,300.