Parcel Donation

On January 26th, 2021, the Stow Board of Selectmen voted unanimously 5-0 to approve the acceptance of donated land for conservation purposes at Map R5, Parcel 22, Harvard Acres Open Space off Conant Drive and acceptance of pedestrian easement across Map R5, Parcel 24.

On January 19th, 2021, the Stow Conservation Commission voted unanimously 5-0 to accept the parcel donation.

During the 2020 HAHA Annual Meeting on February 3rd, 2019 at 38 Kirkland Dr, meeting attendees voted 8-0 unanimously in favor to donate Parcel R-5-22, an unbuildable water lot located behind the tennis-basketball courts, to the Stow Conservation Commission.

To: All Neighbors
From: HAHA Social Committee
Subject: Neighborhood Meeting to Elect Officers and adopt Articles of Incorporation
When/Where: Saturday, October 12 th , 9:30 a.m. (Tennis Courts)

Hi all,

As you are all aware, the Social Committee has been working with the Stow Conservation Commission to donate Parcel R-5-22, an unbuildable water lot, located behind the tennis-basketball courts.

During the title search, Town Counsel uncovered an issue with conveyance. It appears as though the land was conveyed to Harvard Acres Homeowners Association, but an Association was never legally created. Therefore, in order to donate the land, Articles of Incorporation must be filed with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We will then have the legal right to donate the land. With that said, we have been asked to elect a President, Clerk, and Treasurer through a process of nominations or volunteers.

The creation of an Articles of Incorporation will not change how we operate: our annual dues collection to pay for taxes, insurance, social activities, and upkeep of our common property will continue to be voluntary; our meetings will continue to be open to anyone in the neighborhood; and our mission will continue to be one of neighborhood collegiality.

Several members of the Social Committee have volunteered to fill the board member slots, and we’d love to answer any questions you may have at the meeting. We will not need a quorum of neighborhood residents to certify the election, so whoever attends gets to vote.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, October 12th, 9:30 a.m. at the Conant Drive tennis courts to elect HAHA officers for Articles of Incorporation with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Thank you,
The Social Committee

This topic is listed as a discussion and action item on the agenda for the Conservation Commission meeting for Tuesday June 18, 2019 at 7:30 pm in the Stow Town Building.

Dear Neighbors,

We have an opportunity to donate parcel R-5-22 to the Stow Conservation Commission. The parcel is a 12 acre, unbuildable, water lot, located behind the tennis/basketball courts. The parcel is highlighted in yellow on the following map.

By donating the land, we will no longer be held liable for the yearly taxes (roughly $1,000 per year) on that parcel. We will, however, continue to own, maintain and pay taxes on Parcel R-5-24, which holds the tennis/basketball courts.

The parcel will remain a sanctuary for wildlife and will further protect the stream that flows into Delaney.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Here are questions received thus far along with answers from the Stow Conservation Commission:


Q: The parcel appears to have no road frontage. Will we be donating an easement for access also?

A: The town owns the parcels all the way on the other side of this parcel opposite the tennis courts. But since those aren’t in our control at present, it probably does make sense to include an easement.


Q: I’m assuming it would never affect anyone’s ability to boat or fish on those waters.

A: Boating and fishing are fine (so long as the proper fishing license is in hand!)


Q: I’m not sure who owns the other parcel next to it, but I’m not attached to that either.

A: We’ve reached out to the abutters of this property prior to proceeding and they’ve given us the ok.


Q: I would protect yourself and the donation by getting a lawyer to make sure this can happen. Would it require a neighborhood vote? Or the creation of an official neighborhood board (that could then be dissolved)?

A: We will definitely have an attorney review any legal documents that are prepared by the town. The Town Counsel will be handling the conveyance and we will incur no fees with regard to the drafting/filing of these documents. The parcel was conveyed to the HA Homeowners’ Association, Inc. in 1986, but the neighborhood never legally created this entity. Which we may have to do in order to donate the parcel.


Q: I’m not advocating any payment for the land itself, but if you get a lot of residents asking for that, I would suggest that Stow Conservation pay an amount that would cover some number of years of taxes on the remaining communal land.

A: By donating the parcel, we’ve requested and confirmed with the Commission that the land will remain a sanctuary for wildlife. Once money exchanges hands, we would have no say.


Q: The only concerns I would have (assuming that lots 18-22 are vacant because they’re unbuildable/won’t perk) is that by donating this lot 22 to Conservation, it doesn’t affect any modifications the adjacent homeowners on Conant, Kirkland or Harvard Rd may want to do to their lots/homes in the future. If doing something like this makes a home more difficult to update/add on to or cut down trees for a backyard, then homeowners choose to relocate and the home becomes harder to sell.

And I assume, gifting this parcel doesn’t impact the tennis court community area? I know there are setbacks you need to adhere to with conservation which is why I bring this up. Will they still allow brush to be removed surrounding the fence during annual clean ups…or lawn clippings?

Q: If this parcel is donated to the Conservation Commission, how does this affect those with properties with water (drainage easements, naturally draining paths in springtime, small ponds)? It seems like this could substantially increase the oversight of the Conservation Commission on our properties, especially since several of us have flowing water/stream/ponds that drain (eventually) into Delaney.

For example, if deemed protected water body, then our yard could be deemed conservation land (not sure of exact wording), then not allowed to cut down any trees on property without permission from CC. I know a resident who personally experienced this personally many years ago, getting a cease and desist order when planting and cutting a bunch of evergreen shrubs and trees, because a drainage easement lies within their property.

A: The Stow Conservation Commission has two roles, and I think folks are confused about this and mixing them together. So let me try to clarify:

1) Role #1: The Commission is responsible for administering the MA Wetlands Protection Act and the Town of Stow Wetlands Bylaw. Any work that is within 100′ of wetlands and 200′ of rivers and streams requires approval from the Conservation Commission. So if Harvard Acres residents have streams, wetlands, drainage channels, etc. on their land and they want to take down trees, add onto houses, etc., they are going to need to get approval from the Conservation Commission. We regularly work with Harvard Acres residents on such applications. Whether or not we acquire the Harvard Acres open space won’t affect what we have jurisdiction over under this paragraph. We already have that jurisdiction by law, and owning the Harvard Acres land won’t expand what we regulate. If someone got a cease and desist order, it is probably because they were doing work is a regulated wetland area without a permit. This is not uncommon — we will stop the work and require that owner get a permit and comply with any requirements of state or local laws. But again, it has nothing to do with our land ownership.

2) Role #2: The Commission owns and manages town conservation land in Stow. At present, we have about 1600 acres of forests, meadows, wetlands, etc. that we own and are responsible for managing. This land was either purchased by the town or donated to us. This includes Marble Hill, Town Forest, Captain Sargent, Flagg Hill and Heath Hen Meadow Brook. These are our well known properties with trails and parking. We also have a number of small properties that aren’t managed for visitation at present. Sometimes they are used by neighbors, but they don’t have parking and aren’t advertised for this purpose. The Wetlands Protection Act and Wetland Bylaw apply to US on our properties (so for example if we were going to build a bridge or cut a lot of trees, we’d have get a permit for that) but owning the land doesn’t expand our jurisdiction at all to adjacent properties.

We do ask that people respect our properties and not dump on them or trespass onto conservation land to cut trees or other vegetation. If they wouldn’t dump yard waste on their neighbor’s land, they shouldn’t dump it on town land! If people are dumping or cutting vegetation on land owned by the town we are in touch with them and will ask that they stop doing that as dumping is a violation of town conservation land regulations. Sometimes it is also a violation of wetland regulations if they are dumping into a wetland area.

We did notice that there is a quite a bit of dumping on the parcel adjacent to the tennis courts. That isn’t part of what will be conveyed to us, but long term we’d encourage people to find other solutions to yard waste, either composting on their lots or arranging to have it hauled away. I believe that this land is owned by the town, but not by the Conservation Commission.