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Cambria farmer signs perpetual no-development easement

A fourth-generation farm in Cambria will always be a farm – or at least not a subdivision.

Coulter Farm on North Ridge Road has signed a perpetual conservation easement, meaning that the current owners, and anyone who buys the land in the future, will not be allowed to turn it into a residential or commercial development. The land will be reserved for agriculture.

The current owners, David and Ursula Coulter, are at the helm of a 106-acre family farm founded in 1889. They operate a flourishing U-pick fruit business and a seasonal farm market. But there is no family member lined up to succeed them. So they settled on the conservation easement as a way to protect the property from falling into the hands of developers.

The easement would be transferred to any future owners. They wouldn’t necessarily have to farm the land, but they couldn’t develop it, according to Kathleen McCormick, stewardship director for the Western New York Land Conservancy.

“It was something Dave Coulter’s father really wanted to do,” McCormick said.

Jim Coulter, who died in 2009, was active in Niagara County agricultural groups, including serving as president of the county Farm Bureau, and had a strong interest in farmland preservation.

The acquisition of the easement was funded in large part by memorial gifts from friends after Jim’s death. The Land Conservancy also received a $59,600 grant in May from the state Conservation Partnership Program.

“The great thing about protecting our farm from development is that it makes the land more affordable for the next farmer. This will help keep our family’s legacy going,” Dave Coulter said.

He told The Buffalo News in June that he is a retired Kodak worker who has been operating the farm with his cousin, Jeff Hall. The farm will stay in business.

The farm, which extends into the Town of Wilson, includes 40 acres of cropland and orchards, 50 acres of forest and nearly one-half mile of Twelve Mile Creek.

It is the fourth farm in Niagara County for which the land conservancy has acquired an easement. In all, it has set up conservation easements on 41 Western New York farms, 34 of them in Erie County, with the largest numbers being in Amherst, Clarence and Marilla.

The Coulter Farm is the largest farm protected by a conservation easement in Niagara County.

“The Coulter Farm represents all the reasons why we protect farmland in Western New York,” said Nancy Smith, Land Conservancy executive director. “We hope we can assist other farmers who would like to protect their land.”