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PEPPERELL — The Planning Board received its first glimpse Monday night of a series of proposals for the limited development of a portion of the Keyes estate in south Pepperell.

Dick and George Keyes, both formerly of Pepperell and representing the Keyes Family Trust, explained their desire to keep as much of the 168-acre property protected as conservation land as fiscally possible.

They related to the board that their father, who passed away in 1994, had instilled conservation values in them as children while they helped work the family timberland and farm. George Keyes has held various conservation leadership roles over the years and noted that the property has been in the family since the 1890s.

Financial considerations have dictated that a limited development of the property, perhaps as few as 46 to 50 lots of 20,000 square feet, as part of an open space residential development (OSRD). Engineer Cindy O’Connell of Beales Associates presented several variants of a plan to develop the central portion of the site, adjacent to the existing Keyes family home. Depending on the availability of town sewer hookups and zoning considerations, the plan could span either a relatively small footprint of the property, or a very large one.

Displaying the first of several design plans, O’Connell said, “This is certainly not what the family wants for this property.” The plan showed a sprawling residential subdivision, stretching from one end of the property to the other, from River Road to Elm Street.

From a regulatory perspective, that plan would have been the easiest to implement.

Plans labeled as Concept A and Concept B caught the attention of Chairman Joseph Sergi and other members of the board. The smaller footprint of Concept A, with its 20,000 square foot lots, would require a hookup to town sewer, which is currently not available in that portion of town. “This is attractive over the other alternatives,” said Sergi.

Concept B, also an OSRD plan, would require larger 30,000 square foot lots to accommodate septic systems. Both Concept A and Concept B would require access only from River Road, unlike the larger subdivision plan that called for a through street from River Road to Elm Street.

George Keyes emphasized that he and his brother did not want their plans to become “adversarial with the town,” and assured the board that the two years of effort they had put into studying alternatives for the property would continue in close cooperation with town officials.

At present, approximately 50 acres of the site is under a conservation easement and is used for walking, picnicking, bird-watching, horseback riding, fishing, and cross-country skiing.

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