How preservation works

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALandowners consistently report that establishing a conservation easement with the Land Conservancy is easy!

Most easements follow the steps described below. If you have any questions, please visit our FAQ page, or contact us directly by calling (717) 334-2828.

Professional advice

While not required, we always recommend that you seek the advice of your attorney and/or accountant when considering creating a conservation easement. Your advisor can help you make wise decisions, review and suggest changes in the conservation easement document, and help you maximize your tax savings, estate planning benefits, and other financial benefits of easement donation or sale. We do not and cannot offer either legal or accounting advice.

That said, if you think you might like to preserve your property in Adams County—or even a portion of your property—the very first step is to give us a call at (717) 334-2828. We will meet with you to go over the easement process and the implications of preserving your land through a conservation easement.

After this meeting, if you decide you would like to move forward toward granting an easement to the Land Conservancy, the steps below must occur prior to settlement. Please keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive; additional requirements may arise, depending on the funding source(s).

Purchased v. donated easements

In some cases the Land Conservancy reimburses the property owner for a portion of the value of the land were it to be developed—known as the property’s “development value.” This is land value the property owner foregoes by choosing to preserve the land from development in perpetuity. Easement agreements in which the Land Conservancy reimburses the property owner for a portion of the land’s development value are known as “purchased easements.” Easement agreements in which the property owner donates, or is not reimbursed for, the property’s development value are known as “donated easements.”

Some of our preservation procedures apply only to purchased easements; these procedures are listed first.

Procedures for purchased easements

1. Appraisal. We will order an appraisal of the property you would like to preserve to determine its value. This step requires that you sign a commitment agreement and pay a commitment fee of $500.

2. Purchase price negotiation. Once we receive the appraisal, we will propose an easement purchase price. Once you and the Land Conservancy agree on a purchase price, both parties sign an Agreement of Sale, a copy of which is provided to you.

3. Grant application. At this point, we will apply for grant funding to help cover the easement purchase price. Once we have obtained sufficient grant funds, we will request a title search and title commitment from our attorney (see below).

Procedures for both purchased and donated easements

1. Title search. For both purchased and donated easements, the next step is a title search. If the title search shows that your property is not in a township-designated Agricultural Security Area (ASA) and you are requesting an agricultural easement, we will help you apply for inclusion within your township’s ASA.

2. Property survey? Sometimes it may be necessary for us to order a survey of your property. For instance, if the title search shows that the current property description contains a large error, we will need to order a survey to determine accurate property lines. Similarly, if you decide to exclude some of your property from the easement, we will need a survey to describe the easement area accurately. We will ask you to pay $500 to order the survey, as well as reimburse us at settlement for any outstanding survey costs. Once the survey is complete, we will forward it to our attorney for creation of an accurate property description, which is then attached to the easement documentation.

3. Easement agreement drafting. Once your property—or the portion of it you wish to preserve—is accurately described, we will draft a conservation easement and send it to you for review. When you and the Land Conservancy have agreed on the easement’s language, we will forward the easement to our attorney for review.

4. Baseline documentation. Next, we will complete our baseline easement documentation, which establishes the property’s condition at the time of settlement. This documentation includes a visit to the property to take photos. We will forward this baseline to you for review.

5. Mortgage subordination agreement? We also will discuss with you and/or your attorney any mortgages, liens, and/or encumbrances identified in the title search. If necessary, we will draft and forward a subordination agreement for your mortgage holder to sign and complete prior to settlement, and you will sign the subordination agreement at settlement.

6. Final approval. After our attorney has reviewed all the easement materials, we will notify you of any changes. If you have no further changes, our Conservation Committee will review the final easement draft and forward it to the Board of Directors for final approval.

7. Settlement. Once your easement has been approved by the Board of Directors, we schedule a settlement meeting. At settlement, you and the Land Conservancy officers sign the conservation easement, any subordination agreements, and the baseline documentation. At this time we will ask you to make a contribution to our Stewardship Fund to cover ongoing easement enforcement expenses, as well as reimburse the Land Conservancy for survey costs, if applicable.

8. Celebrate! Now your easement is complete! You can celebrate the fact that you have preserved your property according to your wishes and needs, in perpetuity!