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Lachat Deal Under Review with Attorney General

Weston is nearing final approval for a separation agreement with the Nature Conservancy.

The town of Weston and have submitted for review a deal that splits the Lachat property and the associated trust to the Connecticut Attorney General’s office, First Selectman Gayle Weinstein confirmed to Patch last week.

The terms of the deal call for the town to keep the fields and the Conservancy to keep the forest. In addition, the trust that was established to maintain the property will be divided between the two entities.

The trust is valued at well over a half-million dollars, with a 5 percent annual draw down; the land is worth considerably more.

The property, sold to the town and the Conservancy jointly by Leon Lachat, has been . The conservancy submitted a plan to the town several years ago, which was ultimately voted down at the Annual Town Budget Meeting.

The conservancy plan drew the ire of neighbors, who objected to the conservancy’s desire to tear down several buildings on the property and renovate the residence for use as a corporate building, complete with a large parking lot. The conservancy and the town also wanted to build an educational center on the property.

In addition, that “Leon never wanted anything commercial. He wanted someone who would preserve the farm.”

Although Margaret told Patch that she considers the conservancy “a bully,” Weinstein disagreed.

“I think they’ve been made out to be the bad guy in all this, and it’s not fair,” Weinstein said. “It’s important to remember that the conservancy and the town were partners on that deal.”

The residence came , after Weinstein declared it an “attractive nuisance” while also expressing concern that its decaying nature presented serious safety concerns for residents and potential liability problems for the town. 

Despite these concerns, residents and a community organization called have given the residence .

Weston resident Carol Baldwin has begun active fundraising efforts, including grant research, and will present her findings at the next Board of Selectmen meeting on July 21. Baldwin is currently traveling and was unavailable for comment.

GVI has expressed a strong desire to return the property to its farming roots, and has offered Baldwin the use of its 501(c)3 status for fundraising purposes. GVI has an impressive list of local accomplishments, including a popular community farm in Westport.

Weinstein strongly supports the GVI initiative. “It’s an incredible opportunity for the town,” she said.

“There are so many things we could do with that property, in addition to farming,” she added.

Weinstein told Patch that GVI has no interest in maintaining the residence, a disappointing development for community members who were hoping that GVI would renovate the residence and install a farmer who would maintain the property.

Although GVI does not want to renovate or maintain the home at this time, GVI’s nonprofit status will allow Baldwin to pursue additional funding options that may permit the home’s rescue nevertheless.

Although Margaret was not involved in the negotiations between the town and the conservancy, town leadership reached out to Margaret to ask for her support for the new deal, a request she rejected.

“Leon loved all of the farm, not just parts of it,” she told Patch.

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