In different states there are various ways that land owners may enter into agreements to help preserve various rural aspects of their land. One widely used method in Central VA helps to ensure protection of the agricultural resources, forest resources, scenic spaces, or wildlife habitat that may exist on a property into the future.
Here landowners often choose to enter into a restrictive agreement that may give the landowner some financial incentives to protect the rural nature of his/her land from development, and this is called a Conservation Easement. Not every state utilizes Conservation Easements so don’t be shy about asking us for details. In a Conservation Easement agreement, the landowner agrees to reserve certain rights, for instance specific uses of the land or the right to continue current use of the property so long as it doesn’t contradict other terms of the agreement. The landowner also may agree to strip or restrict future development rights so that the rural character of the land is preserved in perpetuity. There are tax relief incentives for the landowner. The agreement is held by a third party land trust and they are responsible for monitoring compliance with the agreement. In our area that land trust entity is often the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, Piedmont Environmental Council, or the Albemarle County Public Recreation Facilities Authority. When purchasing a property that is in conservation easement it is important to carefully read the particular easement because each one may be slightly different. They often limit the number of dwellings allowed on the property and may also limit the square footage or number of farm buildings. Conservation Easement terms continue on the property ‘in perpetuity’. The terms of the agreement pass from owner to owner in order to protect the land.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: THE NATIONAL CONSERVATION EASEMENT DATABASE.
You might also hear about “Land Use’ assessments of our Central VA properties. Check out this link for MORE ABOUT LAND USE. As with any technically challenging legal or financial circumstance, we advise you to consult a lawyer for legal definitions… but as Realtors we are able to guide you on issues about specifics of the properties themselves that are being protected by easements.