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Sale of Little Neck to cottage owners completed

Little Neck, the Ipswich summer cottage community at the center of a decades-long ­legal battle, has officially been sold to 166 property owners.

The $31.4 million trans­action was completed Aug. 10, ending one of the nation’s oldest land trusts, established in 1660 by settler William Paine.

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Paine’s will stated that the land should never be sold and that rental income should benefit the Ipswich public schools. But an Essex Probate Court judge ruled last December that the trust could be changed to ­allow the sale of Little Neck to cottage owners, who have formed a condominium association.

A group of residents ­opposed to the change ­appealed the judge’s ruling to the state Appeals Court. But a single justice of that court upheld the probate judge’s decision, clearing the way for the sale.

Catherine Savoie, a lawyer for the residents, said she still plans to file an appeal with the Supreme Judicial Court.

With the Little Neck sale, a former board of trustees called the Feoffees of the Ipswich Grammar School has been dissolved and replaced by a seven-member panel, the New Feoffees. After expenses related to the land closing and past bills owed by the former feoffees, the trust to benefit the schools will have $25.4 million in assets, according to a statement issued by the New Feoffees.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com.
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