TOWNSEND -- The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation is interested in acquiring a 19-acre parcel on Barker Hill Road that would otherwise be sold to make way for a housing subdivision, selectmen announced Tuesday.

In a brief meeting, selectmen announced the state's interest in acquiring the land, which is abutted by Townsend State Forest land. The property, which is now privately owned, would become part of the state forest as well.

"If acquired by DCR, the land will be annexed to DCR's Townsend State Forest and dedicated to conservation and recreation purposes," a letter from DCR to the Board of Selectmen reads.

The letter states that the parcel is undeveloped, forested land, and any current use of the property is "informal and transitory."

According to Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan, the property owner wants to sell the land to a buyer who hopes to put in two single-family homes.

Under state law, the town has the right to either purchase the property or assign that right to someone else when the property comes up for sale. In exchange for offering that right, the land is taxed at a lower rate, Sheehan said.

A public hearing will be held at the Board of Selectmen meeting on April 8 for residents to voice opinions about the sale of the property. Following the hearing, selectmen will decide what to do with the land.

"There will be a hearing next week, and then the board can either buy the property, assign it to DCR or someone else, or not exercise the right and allow the private sale to go through," Sheehan said.

Although regulations require that DCR to provide 120 days notice to the Board of Selectmen about its intent to purchase the land, DCR asked that selectmen waive that waiting period.

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