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Old 12-22-2014, 04:52 PM
 
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If a city wants to keep public access to the water and constrain developers from building on to block it how can they use conservation easement?
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Old 12-22-2014, 05:13 PM
 
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Generally speaking. CONSERVATION easements do not include access for the general public -- Conservation Easements: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
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Old 12-24-2014, 02:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by homenj View Post
If a city wants to keep public access to the water and constrain developers from building on to block it how can they use conservation easement?
Why should the current elected officials limit what future officials can do in such a fashion?
If this is the city's property then it is easy enough for the city to simply not develop its own property.

There really isn't much positive about conservation easements - they are mainly a boondoggle for the often falsely named "non-profits" soliciting their formation, acquisition, and maintenance.
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Old 12-26-2014, 11:39 AM
 
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Originally Posted by homenj View Post
If a city wants to keep public access to the water and constrain developers from building on to block it how can they use conservation easement?
A conservation easement could be utilized to keep land free from development and open to the public, but I think a much better approach would simply be for the city to have fee simple ownership of the land. In an urban setting, especially, there is relatively little difference between the development rights value of land (which would be secured through a conservation easement) and the fee simple value, since most of the value is based upon its development potential.

Conservation easements certainly can have provisions requiring public access, but public access is usually not a requirement of a conservation easement. I've only structured two conservation easements which required public access--but, in both cases, the privately-owned land is scheduled to revert to the local park authority in the event that public access isn't maintained.

I think an excellent use of conservation easements--which hasn't been used much--is to have conservation easements on existing public park land. This would constrain politicians from making short-sighted decisions, and it would also thwart the temptation for outright corruption by selling such land to political cronies. Public park land is often coveted by developers since it is usually free from environmental hazards and it is already assembled (oftentimes) into a large block of contiguous land. A conservation easement is only one tool in the planning tool box, but it can be an important one if used properly.
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Old 12-26-2014, 11:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
Generally speaking. CONSERVATION easements do not include access for the general public -- Conservation Easements: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
There are much better places to get information about conservation easements than from a right-wing, anti-government, anti-charitable, anti-conservation source.
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Old 12-26-2014, 12:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by IC_deLight View Post
Why should the current elected officials limit what future officials can do in such a fashion?
Current elected officials are always limiting what future officials will be able to do. When a wetland is permitted to be filled for development, when a forest is cut down for a strip mall, or when farmland is subdivided for a residential subdivision, all of those actions limit and forever change the landscape that future officials will need to contend with. At least with land encumbered with a conservation easement, if a future, alternate use were truly in the public benefit, the conservation easement and the underlying land could be taken through eminent domain.
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Old 12-26-2014, 12:35 PM
 
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Default Well then SHARE THEM MY GOOD MAN!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackmichigan View Post
There are much better places to get information about conservation easements than from a right-wing, anti-government, anti-charitable, anti-conservation source.
If you have some suitable info sources that apparently hew to your standards GET THEM OUT HERE!

I have no particular interest in being anti- / pro- | goverment / charity / conservation.

I know that locally (suburban Chicago) there are a few notorious "conservation easements" that for all intents and purposes was a way for a rich land owners to bully the Forest Preserve into lowering the otherwise huge assessments that were owned on property taxes AND in those specific instances it did NOTHING to expand access to the actual land for the public.

Perhaps there are other sources that would explain how the conservation assessment is good for access but from everything I have seen the only way to ensure access is by the public body actually taking title to the land...
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Old 12-27-2014, 01:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackmichigan View Post
Current elected officials are always limiting what future officials will be able to do. When a wetland is permitted to be filled for development, when a forest is cut down for a strip mall, or when farmland is subdivided for a residential subdivision, all of those actions limit and forever change the landscape that future officials will need to contend with. At least with land encumbered with a conservation easement, if a future, alternate use were truly in the public benefit, the conservation easement and the underlying land could be taken through eminent domain.

The examples you gave deal with private owners pursuing development of their own land - not current elected officials tying the hands of future elected officials. The examples are not analogous at all. In your example, the elected officials are not developing the land on behalf of the local government. If they unreasonably refuse to permit a landowner to do the things you identify then they have already engaged in a taking without compensation. If you wanted to prevent development of someone else's property then the local government can purchase the land with a willing seller or alternatively take the land through eminent domain (assuming it is doing so for a public purpose) which still requires providing just compensation.

The conservation easements are usually held by non-governmental entities that offer nothing of value but sit in a position to reap the benefits in the event the "easement" is taken by eminent domain. These entities hold nearly 100% of the value of the land but pay no taxes and are not prohibited from selling or modifying the easement which they won't hesitate to do for the right price. The test for "public benefit" is pretty low for eminent domain. Kelo vs City of New London should tell you that.

If it was for public benefit then why should a conservation easement go to a private non-governmental organization? Everything you describe can be handled by the city owning the property itself. If the "plan" is truly supported then future officials aren't going to tamper with it. However, the needs of the populace change over time and the hand of the dead shouldn't be controlling the living. In the scenario you promote, the local government spends taxpayer dollars to acquire the property or easement but a NGO gets all the value when it gets the conservation easement. The taxpayers get screwed the first time when this happens. Then when the local government needs the property it has to pay more taxpayer dollars to get the easement eliminated. Taxpayers get hosed over and over again.
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