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Community buffer program purchases development rights of Antwerp property

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ANTWERP — A family in town will keep farming the land after selling the property development rights to a program that limits encroachment of Army training around installations like Fort Drum.

The development rights for the 162.4-acre property of Albert R. and Theresa A. Desormeaux, near Delphi Hall Road, were purchased Wednesday through the Army Compatible Use Buffer program.

“I’m a strong believer that some of our better land better be preserved for the future and not for development,” Mr. Desormeaux said.

The partnership among the post, the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust and Ducks Unlimited has dedicated about $4.5 million since about 2009, acquiring approximately 2,899 acres to the post’s west and south.

The Desormeaux project is the 13th property to become part of the program.

Although the permanent development rights deals limit certain land use, the program allows for a wide range of agricultural work to be negotiated.

Mr. Desormeaux said the land has been used as pasture and for growing crops, and that his family has been farming at the property for about 60 years. The father of seven said he has a son already helping to operate the farm, and grandchildren who may be interested in joining the family business.

He said his main concern with signing was how it would affect his farm’s work and, after reviewing the terms of the sale, he didn’t see any issues, calling it a “no-brainer.”

“All they want is good stewards of the land,” he said.

The development rights for the property were purchased for $296,000. Mr. Desormeaux said the money would be used to modernize some of his equipment and increase his charitable giving.

Fort Drum has seen the buffer program and lack of outside encroachment for its training as points of pride, and the program was highlighted by Army researchers during a recent force structure assessment.

Mr. Desormeaux said he remembers Army units training on active farms in the town during World War II.

“Back then, they just did it,” he said.

Mr. Desormeaux later served in the Army Corps of Engineers from 1949 to 1951.

Linda M. Garrett, the land trust’s executive director, said that the program has seen a large amount of interest in the past few years as word about it spread.

“The program is gaining quite a bit of momentum,” she said.

Despite the interest, Mrs. Garrett said, advertising for the program has been reduced as questions have arisen about future funding for the program.

“We really are trying to balance it, and get the people in line in the beginning,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re taking them as they come to us.”

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