DEVENS -- The Devens Enterprise Commission signed a conservation restriction for the Shepley's Hill conservation area.
Restrictions to the conservation land approved by DEC include "new construction, clear cutting, removing or otherwise destroying trees, grasses or other vegetation; activities detrimental to drainage, flood control, water conservation, water quality, erosion control, soil conservation, or archeological conservation; parking and storage of vehicles (except where already in place); and any other use that would negatively affect the natural resources being protected."
The 44.6-acre parcel of underdeveloped land, directly adjacent to the Shepley's Hill Landfill site and next to Parker Charter School and Shriver Job Corps, was listed in the 2008 to 2013 Devens Open Space and Recreation Plan.
According to a memo sent to DEC from environmental planner Neil Angus and director Peter Lowitt, the purpose of the land is to "promote active and passive recreational opportunities, preserve and enhance the natural beauty and sensitive natural resources of Devens and serve as a buffer and transition area for other uses."
With this land permanently protected, along with the 125 acres pending around Robbins Pond and Cold Spring Brook, Devens holds 1,346 acres of protected land.
The land is home to a disk golf course and contains many natural resources such as a vernal pool, steep slopes and large rock outcrops. Drainage from the area flows toward Plow Shop Pond and Grove Pond, and supplies Ayer and Devens drinking water wells.
Lowitt met with the Ayer Conservation Commission discussing the restrictions on the land.
"Early on in the process, we reached over to Ayer Conservation Commission and had a meeting. They are second (in line to hold conservation restrictions) for the program, so if we drop out at some point in the future, MassDevelopment would look for a new holder, and they would look first towards Ayer Conservation Commission," Lowitt said.
"Have they looked at the document and are they comfortable with it?" Commissioner John Oelfke asked.
"They looked at the document and agreed that they would be interested," Lowitt said.
"Is 'interested' the same as 'okay' with it?" Oelfke asked.
"I believe it could be construed as they were okay with it," Lowitt said.
"Okay ... I would have rather you said that they were happy with it," Oelfke said.
Angus stepped in to clear up the matter. "This is between the DEC and MassDevelopment," Angus said. "If (the land) did get transferred, (MassDevelopment) would have to draft up a new one that would be to Ayer's satisfaction," Angus said.
The conservation restriction for this property was approved by the DEC.