Lansing community relieved as Watchtower farm sold

The community of Lansing and Tompkins County, NY, who are concerned about suburban sprawl can breath a sigh of relief this week. The Kingdom Farm based in Lansing has been sold to a Cayuga County, dairy farmer.

The Kingdom Farm property borders Buck Road, Route 34/Auburn Road, and Peruville Road in Lansing town. It consists of a 528.1 acres. The sale was completed on Tuesday, 10 March 2015. The price according to Tompkins County records is $2.8 million or about $5,300/acre.

The Farm property has been a source of worry for Lansing residents. The property went up for sale in October 2014, the asking price of $3 million was thought to be out of reach of local farmers, who normally pay less than $3,000/acre for land in Lansing.

The property had been in the ownership of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society since 1935. Concern was expressed that the property would be picked up by real estate developers for residential development.

In May of 2007 two representatives of the Watchtower Society, Nicholas Schwartz and Daniel Rice, showed town officials prospective plans for 500 new residences, including apartments and senior housing, plus retail and business properties ranging from high density development on the southern part of the farm to two to eight acre single-family parcels on the northern portion.

Watchtower Society had also entered into an agreement with the Town to contribute $1.5 million to a sewer project in exchange for an agreed upon amount of sewer capacity to the property, when a sewer project came to pass.  Last year the Town voided that agreement in the midst of a controversial sewer plan that failed to materialize.

The local newspaper the Lansing Star, reported in October 2014, when the farm went up for sale at an extremely high price, that there was considerable debate as to whether the town of Lansing should step in to keep the property as agricultural land.

Lansing Agriculture Plan Committee member and former Councilwoman Connie Wilcox said in October 2014, “It’s always been the intent that we keep the northern part of this town a rural agricultural area. I think it’s a real shame that Kingdom Farm is asking as much as they are. I know a couple of farmers that would have bought it if it wasn’t $6,000 per acre. A farm I know of looked at it, and another consortium as well. But the soil is not that good. I hate to see it turn into a big development.

The new owners of the farm are Dale and Colleen Mattoon, dairy farmers from the southern Cayuga County town of Locke, which shares a border with Lansing.

The departure of the Watchtower Society will be of significant importance to the town and a positive benefit, as the sale of the property returns the farm to taxable status for the first time in 80 years. The county most recently assessed the property at a value of $2.2 million.

More information

Farm & Ranch – Kingdom Farm details Link

IthacaVoice -Lansing – Kingdom Farm sells averting development concerns Link

Lansing Star – Local Farmers concerned about Kingdom Farm sale Link

Tompkins County Public Library historical document of Kingdom Farm and Gilead School (PDF) Link

Image credit – Lansing Star

Susannah

About Susannah

"Susannah," JWReport's News and Opinion Editor, is very familiar with the Watchtower Society and its leaders past and present. An experienced editor and writer, she was born and raised in the UK where she was an active Jehovah's Witness until she was 28. She now lives and works in southern Europe.

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