Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus took yet another step toward keeping Dutchess County green on Thursday when he presented a county check totaling $386,685 to Stephen Abel to assist in the purchase of the development rights for Abel Tree Farm in the Town of Union Vale. The county money is funded through the Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth/Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program – an initiative that Steinhaus authored in 2000. The effort was in partnership with the Dutchess Land Conservancy and the Town of Union Vale. Owner Stephen Abel contributed by virtue of a bargain sale – when the landowner agrees to sell development rights for less the totaled appraised value.
County Executive Steinhaus said, “Open Space Preservation is a key component of the sustainability strategy that I outlined in my 2007 State of the County Address “Dutchess Goes Green.” The protection of this historic and productive farm in South Central Dutchess exemplifies our steady progress toward securing development rights of our valuable agricultural resources and in assisting local municipalities in preserving their traditional character.”
Financial participation by the local municipality is essential to the success of this program. County Executive Steinhaus has designed the Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth/Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program to be the last money in to attract other funds, therefore assuring local support. The Abel Tree Farm is a perfect example of successful partnership. Residents of Union Vale supported the project through the $100,000 town allocation. The Dutchess Land Conservancy (DLC) was also an invaluable partner, providing $315,325 toward the purchase. DLC Executive Director Rebecca Thornton stated, “It has been wonderful working with the Abel family, Dutchess County, the Town of Union Vale and all of the wonderful people in this community who have given to help protect this incredible farm.”
The Abel Tree Farm, a picturesque farm business in South Central Dutchess, is a 189-acre choose-and-cut holiday tree operation located on North Clove Road in the Town of Union Vale. The farm has been owned and operated by the Abel family since it was purchased by current owner Stephen Abel’s great-grandfather in 1850. The property remains in private ownership and retains its farm value and purpose, but cannot be developed under terms of the purchase of development rights. Landowner Steven Abel, speaking on behalf of his family, said “My family and I would like to thank everyone involved in the project including County Executive Steinhaus, County Clerk Bradford Kendall and Dutchess County Government, The Dutchess Land Conservancy and the Town of Union Vale for making this preservation possible. I am very proud to have our farm preserved as an open agricultural area for everyone to appreciate and enjoy, in contrast to the thousands of acres of farmland that have been developed in the County. Our farm provides the "roots" for our family and I hope the tradition of gathering there will continue for generations to come.”
Steinhaus concluded, “I am enormously grateful to people like Stephen Abel and his family for their participation. Without the involvement of landowners, there can be no open space preservation.”