Virginia Outdoors Foundation -- Conservation Easements


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Presentation by The Virginia Outdoors Foundation on permanent land conservation opportunities in Virginia. Presentation by Kristin Ford at The Piedmont Environmental Council's "Sources of Funding for Land Management and Land Conservation" event on April 23, 2014.

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  • McPherson; Montgomery Co.
  • Eastern Shore
  • Virginia Outdoors Foundation -- Conservation Easements

    1. 1. Kristin Ford, Assistant Director of Easements 434-293-5169
    2. 2. Preserving Open-space: protecting the farm and forest resource base from suburban sprawl and urbanization.
    3. 3. VOF’s Mission: • The Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) was created by the General Assembly in 1966. • “The Virginia Outdoors Foundation is established to promote the preservation of open-space lands and to encourage private gifts …to preserve the natural, scenic, historic, scientific, open-space and recreational areas of the Commonwealth.”
    4. 4. Since 1966, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation has helped protect approximately 730,000 acres of land in the Commonwealth.
    5. 5. Easement Characteristics: •Voluntary •Flexible to protect unique land features and allow for individual situations •Perpetual (required for tax benefits) •Cost effective— keeps land on tax roles •Significant tax benefits •The community benefits as well, as easements protect air quality, soil, water quality, rural character
    6. 6. WHY WOULD A LANDOWNER GIVE AN EASEMENT? The first and great reason: Landowner loves his land and wants it to stay rural. Farmer wants his farm to remain a farm in next generation Landowner wants to keep a place for wildlife Parents want a family place to be able to stay in the family The other reason: significant tax benefits Tax Benefits: •Estate and Inheritance Tax Reduction •Estate Tax Exclusion •Real Estate Property Tax Reduction where no Land Use Tax exists •Federal Income Tax deduction •VA Transferable Tax Credit
    7. 7. What is in a deed of easement? Recitals– reasons for protecting this property Terms– specific restrictions Technical provisions– give the easement legs to stand
    8. 8. Two choices for easement terms: Standard VOF conservation easement New working farm or farmstead variant
    9. 9. VOF GuidelinesVOF Guidelines Terms vary depending on – property’s size – its physical characteristics – and its conservation values.
    10. 10. Standard VOF Conservation Easement Terms:
    11. 11. Division of land permitted: Best always to remain as a whole. Over 150 acres-- two parcels possible depending on individual property’s conservation values and character 300 acres could be as many as three depending on characteristics and conservation values.
    12. 12. • DwellingsDwellings:: Two dwellings permitted for each permitted parcel. The second dwelling might be a guest or farm manager’s house • 4500 sq. ft review size max for each house • 6500 sq ft total per parcel or per 100 acres
    13. 13. Other easement terms: • Forest Management: BMP’s and Pre-harvest Plan • Farm Buildings: 4,500 to 10,000 sq ft review size depending on property’s size and use. • Stream Buffers: strongly recommended esp. for perennial and significant streams or rivers.
    14. 14. Working Farm Variant
    15. 15. Working farm variant contains a Farmstead where more flexibility is permitted in exchange for fewer divisions: Large farm buildings in farmstead by right
    16. 16. Working Farm variant also permits: • more flexibility in uses in a designated Farmstead • Housing without limitation in Farmstead • Ag processing buildings of any size in the Farmstead
    17. 17. Steps in conveying an easement:
    18. 18. • Step One: Contact VOF Office to get information • Step Two: Farm visit • Step Three: Landowner consults advisors and family and decides to proceed. VOF and landowner agree on terms for easement • Step Three A: Talk to mortgage holder if there is a mortgage on the property.
    19. 19. Steps Four through Six: • VOF staff does research on the property • the landowner’s lawyer does a title search • the landowner, his lawyer, and VOF develop a deed of easement agreeable to all.
    20. 20. Step Seven: VOF Board of Trustees meets and approves the easement proposal. Step Eight: VOF staff makes second farm visit to do Baseline Documentation Report
    21. 21. • Step Nine: Finalizing deed of easement • Step Ten: Recording deed in the county courthouse. • Extra step: crow with satisfaction that your land is forever protected.
    22. 22. Open-space Lands Preservation Trust Fund
    23. 23. 1997 VA General Assembly created a new fund: Open Space Lands Preservation Trust Fund to assist landowners with the costs of conveying open-space easements and (when funds allow) the purchase of all or part of the value of the easements.
    24. 24. Open-SpaceOpen-Space PreservationPreservation TrustTrust FundFund • Costs That the Fund May Reimburse: • 1. Legal costs • 2. Appraisal and other costs • 3. All or part of the easement's value • Priority May Be Given In Applications That: • 1. Seek cost-reimbursement only • 2. Demonstrate financial need • 3. Cover a family-owned and operated farm
    25. 25. Conservation Easements – a flexible, cost effective choice for private landowners to safeguard rural lands and resources.