The board of selectmen allowed a land swap—which proposes an exchange of town-owned conservation land for privately owned land of equal acreage along the Mashpee River—to move forward to the state review process on Monday.
The proposed swap of the town-owned 3.72-acre plot for an equal size plot owned by Donna and Mark Lopez received approval from the Mashpee Conservation Commission and Town Meeting in 2018.
The swap still requires the approval of two-thirds of the state legislature, the governor, and the attorney general.
“The portion that is being swapped by Lopez family and offered to conservation actually abuts the Mashpee River,” Conservation Agent Andrew R. McManus told the selectmen on Monday.
“Considering that the Mashpee River is protected not only as a wetland resource area but also under national heritage and endangered species program—as rare species and priority rare species habitat—the commission felt that for those reasons they endorsed the swap,” Mr. McManus said.
At present, the 3.72-acre parcel along the river owned by the Lopez family interrupts a 12-acre parcel maintained by the state and almost 250 acres of the Mashpee River Woodlands.
The town-owned parcel which the Lopez family hopes to exchange abuts a driveway owned by the family that extends off Meetinghouse Road.
A 12-acre swath of land owned by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Wildlife lies north of the parcel along the Mashpee River which, if the swap is approved, would become conservation land. To the south, lies the 248-acre Mashpee River Woodlands which is maintained by The Trustees of Reservations.
The existing 3.72-acre conservation land proposed for exchange in the swap is surrounded by private land.
The Lopez family parcel along the river is subject to inner and outer riparian zones which make the land difficult to develop, surveyor Mathew Costa of Cape and Islands Engineering said, according to June 8, 2017, ConComm minutes.
The parcel that the Lopez family hopes to obtain, which is farther from the river, could be easier to develop. “The Lopezes want to develop the area for family members,” the 2017 minutes state.
Should the proposed swap receive state approval, the transaction would return to the municipal level and go before the planning board for the final stage of approval.