Mainstone Farm: Frequently Asked Questions

At Town Meeting in early April 2016, Wayland residents voted "yes" to secure the permanent protection of Mainstone Farm by approving the appropriation of funds to acquire a Conservation Restriction on 200 acres of the property.

What is Mainstone Farm?

Mainstone Farm is the largest remaining piece of undeveloped, unprotected open space in Wayland and one of just a few of such properties in the region. The Hamlen family has owned the property since 1872 and continues to farm the land and manage the woodland today.

Mainstone Farm’s 228 acres of land comprise approximately 89 acres of farmland, 124 acres of woodland, and four houses with their accompanying lots (totaling approximately 15 acres) located at the top of the hill. The Town of Wayland and Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) are working together to permanently protect 200 of the farm and woodland acres.

Where is Mainstone Farm?

Mainstone Farm is in the heart of Wayland, and many know the property for its scenic vistas of ponds, pastures, woods, and cows.

To the north, the Farm is bound by Old Connecticut Path between Forest Hill Road and Rice Road. To the east, the property is bound by Rice Road from the intersection of Old Connecticut Path to the beginning of the Mainstone Condominiums property.

The southern border abuts the Hamlen Woods Conservation Area and other protected land surrounding the Mainstone Condominiums.  To the west, the property is bordered by private homes along Forest Hill Road, Deer Run, Bridle Path, and Shaw Drive.

Why conserve Mainstone Farm?

Mainstone Farm has long been a priority for protection by the Town of Wayland and SVT. Residents agree the Farm has become a symbol of the bucolic life and semi-rural character of Wayland.

By protecting the land, we can save working farmland and forests, preserve scenic vistas, protect wildlife habitat, protect water quality, and provide opportunities for passive recreation.

Unprotected, the property could be developed into more than 120 house lots, which would place a heavy burden on schools and Town services.

How will Mainstone Farm be permanently protected?

A common and effective way to protect privately owned land is through a Conservation Restriction (CR), which is a permanent restriction recorded at the Registry of Deeds. It stays with the property even if ownership of the property changes hands. A CR effectively extinguishes development rights associated with the property forever. The CR allows specific uses (such as farming and forestry) to continue into the future.

A landowner voluntarily conveys a CR to a town or land conservation organization while retaining ownership of the property. The Town of Wayland and SVT will purchase the CR on Mainstone Farm, and the Town and SVT will be responsible for monitoring the property annually to ensure that the conservation values detailed in the CR are protected in perpetuity.

Will the Farm be taken off the tax rolls once it’s protected?

Mainstone Farm is currently enrolled in the Chapter 61A property tax program, which provides a lower assessment for agricultural and forest land. Because the property will continue to be privately owned, the landowners will continue to pay taxes, and since the land will be kept in farming or forestry, it will continue to be taxed based on the Chapter 61A assessed value.

Will the property be open to the public?

Trails on a portion of the property will be accessible to the public generally from dawn to dusk and subject to the posted rules and regulations just as with other conservation land in Wayland. Access will be for passive, non-motorized, outdoor recreation and educational activities. The forestland on Mainstone abuts the Hamlen Woods Conservation Area, and currently there are trails between the two properties that are already publicly accessible.

Who will be responsible for maintaining the property?

The management, control, safety, and security of the property will rest with the landowners. Because the land will remain privately owned, the Town will not be burdened by the effort and cost of managing the farm. The Town and SVT will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing the terms of the Conservation Restriction. The Hamlen family has requested that SVT take on the majority of this responsibility.

Will any development be allowed on the property?

Yes. In delineating the area to be covered by the CR, the Hamlens held out two single-family house lots for possible future development. These two lots, totaling approximately 12 acres, are on the interior of the property at the top of the hill and are not a part of the CR. The lots have been located to minimize the disruption of the vista from the surrounding public ways.

Additionally, the CR will allow for the construction of some farm-related structures (e.g., a barn or a greenhouse) to ensure that the property can function as a viable farm enterprise going forward.

Will Mainstone continue to be a working farm?

The Hamlen family fully intends to continue farming the land. Today, the Farm is mainly managed for livestock. This may change to other agricultural uses such as different livestock or crops to allow the owners the flexibility to maintain a viable enterprise.

SVT stands ready to work with the owners to provide guidance on options for future management of the property. The terms of the CR will allow the Town and SVT to maintain the open views across the fields should the landowner be unable to do so at any point in time.

How can I help permanently preserve Mainstone Farm?

SVT has committed to raising $3.3 million from private individuals and foundations to bring this project to completion in the coming year. We will soon be posting information about how you can contribute to this effort. 

For more information, contact Christa Collins, SVT's Director of Land Protection, at 978-443-5588, ext. 115, ccollins@svtweb.org