legal tools called "conservation easements" or "grants
of development rights," land trusts help landowners to voluntarily
limit development while keeping the land open for forestry, farming,
and recreation. The property remains in private ownership with the
peace of mind that it is protected now and forever.
of easements, as valued by certified appraisers, currently qualify
as charitable contributions for federal income and estate tax purposes,
but do not necessarily reduce property taxes.
GLT works with Greensboro landowners who love their land and
want to see it conserved. We buy and accept gifts of development rights.
Sometimes we share a project with the Vermont Land Trust, which receives
funding from The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Freeman
Foundation, and private donors. But mainly we rely on funds raised
from residents and friends of Greensboro.
for Purchase & Sale, and Grant of Development Rights
step in GLT acquisition of development rights is negotiation of a
purchase and sale (P&S) agreement between GLT and the landowner.
This is followed by negotiation of a grant of development rights,
leading to a contract entered in the Town of Greensboro Land Records.
GLT's current policy is
to raise or transfer $1,000 to its Stewardship Endowment Fund for
each new easement, in order to cover monitoring and enforcement costs.
Easement donors are invited to contribute to this fund in recognition
that GLT is assuming a perpetual responsibility to preserve their
terms of GLT conservation easements
of these are listed below, although it should be noted that GLT approaches
each project flexibly out of a desire to accommodate as far as possible
specific needs and goals of the landowner:
Fragmentation of a property
under different owners is normally excluded, although an easement
may permit subdivision of one or a small number of specified parcels.
Easements provide for
homesteads of specified acreage where an owner may remodel an
existing house or add certain types of ancillary structures.
Some agreements authorize
present or future owners to establish up to a specified number
of additional single-family residences on certain portions of
Normally there is no
limit on structures associated with agriculture or forestry.
Where holdings include
woodland, easements provide that any harvesting of timber must
follow a state-approved forest management plan.
If GLT and the landowner
agree that it is desirable to maintain open spaces, such as hayfields,
the easement authorizes GLT to arrange for haying or bush hogging
the land if the owner fails to do so.
The landowner is committed
to grant GLT reasonable access for purposes of monitoring adherence
to the easement.
Unless an easement stipulates
public access for recreation, it is up to the current landowner
to decide whether or not to grant such access.
GLT normally follows guidelines issued by the Vermont Land Trust.
VLT templates comprise our point of departure for negotiating P&S
agreements and grants of development rights. These are summarized
on VLT's website; see in particular the page Conservation Easement:
Guide to the Legal Document .
Other relevant pages on VLT's website include:
- VLT Conservation Easement Donation Guidelines
- VLT Small Parcel Conservation Easement
- Tax Benefits of Donating Conservation
- Commonly asked Questions
- News of some recent family lands conservation
- VLT Productive Timberlands Conservation
- Farmland Protection: How to Conserve