A gifted right of way from Winn resident Herbert C. Haynes Jr. will allow the city to connect the Branch Lake Public Forest (parcel 3) with another piece of city owned land to the north (parcel 1). The right of way will travel along the southwestern border of Haynes’ property (parcel 2). The city forest is accessed by a road that follows an easement granted by John Phillips (owner of parcels 4 and 5). Though Phillips is now the council’s chairman, he granted the easement for access to parcel 3 in his capacity as a private landowner before the city bought it. GRAPHIC BY TIM SUELLENTROP/REACH MAINE MARKETING

Gifted right of way opens up possibilities for public lands

ELLSWORTH — With no fanfare, the size of the city’s public forest on Branch Lake was effectively doubled Monday night as a result of a vote by the City Council.

Unanimously, the six members present (Councilor Marc Blanchette was absent) voted to accept an easement from a private landowner that provides a 10-foot-wide right of way to connect two large, city-owned parcels.

The easement, a cost-free gift from Herbert C. Haynes Jr. of Winn (and head of the H.C. Haynes Inc. company), stretches from the 239-acre city forest to a separate, 285-acre piece of city-owned land.

The public forest, with frontage on Branch Lake and which now features a network of trails, was purchased as part of a larger conservation agreement in 2010. The city acquired the other parcel, located to the north and landlocked without any road access, in 1995 in a consent agreement resulting from a troubled subdivision project.

That consent agreement stated that the city’s acquired property would be “subject to a perpetual conservation easement.” The easement, however, allows for the construction of a travel way and other improvements on the property as long as they are “consistent with the rural character of the area,” with the city’s Planning Board to serve as the judge of consistency.

The right of way gifted by Haynes stretches over a half-mile inside the southwest line of the 276-acre Haynes property, from the northern border of the city forest to the southeastern corner of the larger city-owned lot.

In that way, the right of way will not be in the way of any potential future development that might occur on the Haynes property.

The right of way, which Code Enforcement Officer Dwight Tilton said will likely be marked this spring and later cleared out for use as a trail, allows for walking, bicycling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It prohibits any motorized use or access.

The city’s obligation is to keep the pedestrian trail maintained and clean.

Tilton noted that by connecting the two city-owned parcels, it effectively doubles the size of the city forest. There are no trails on the larger, northern parcel, but the right of way will provide access that could make such trails a reality in the future.

“It gives some added use to the property,” said Council Chairman John Phillips.

Councilor Gary Fortier called the right of way a “great addition.”

Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller

Reporter at The Ellsworth American,
Steve Fuller worked at The Ellsworth American from 2012 to early 2018. He covered the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. A native of Waldo County, he served as editor of Belfast's Republican Journal prior to joining the American. He lives in Orland.
Steve Fuller

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