How the Dedham Land Trust Preserves Open Space
The Dedham Land Trust secures land ownership, through gift or purchase, of important natural land or interests in land in order to protect important open spaces and to preserve the character of Dedham. This can be done though obtaining the land itself, or by obtaining the rights to develop the land. Conservation restrictions (also called conservation easements) are agreements with landowners that limit the type or amount of development on their property. Conservation restrictions allow the Dedham Land Trust to work with private land owners to prevent overdevelopment of fragile and otherwise valuable resources and to preserve scenic beauty and ecological integrity. Land protected by conservation restrictions is privately owned and not necessarily open to the public. Learn more about conservation restrictions by clicking here.
The Dedham Land Trust has a stewardship program which involves the monitoring of DLT’s conservation restrictions to ensure that the land entrusted to us remains protected.
Gifts of Land
Few more enduring legacies can be imagined than the protection of a natural landscape. The Dedham Land Trust accepts gifts of land which has special ecological, recreational, or scenic value. A lifetime gift of land can allow the donor to claim an income tax deduction based on the fair market value of the land at the time of the gift.
Leaving land to the Dedham Land Trust after your death allows you to retain full use and control of the land during your lifetime, yet ensures its care after you are gone and can entitle your estate to a deduction against state and federal estate taxes. Because the gift must be formally accepted after your death, we urge you to share your plans with us in advance so that we may assure you that the gift meets our criteria for acceptance.
Sale and “Bargain Sale”
Land may be purchased for conservation purposes by various governmental units and by DLT. Sales below market value (“bargain sales”) involve the gift of a portion of the property’s value by the donor. The value of the gifted portion can be deducted from the donor’s federal income taxes.
What If the Property is Too Valuable to Give Away?
Often a carefully planned conservation restriction (CR) can solve this problem by keeping the cost of the gift at manageable levels. Even when an owner decides that land must be sold for development, a CR on a portion of the property can prevent sprawl and reduce the impact on conservation values. The Dedham Land Trust would be glad to discuss options with the landowners and design a CR, if appropriate.
What about Deed Restrictions?
A land owner who depends upon deed restrictions to protect property will probably be disappointed. The most serious disadvantage to deed restrictions is that no third party can be designated to assume monitoring and enforcement responsibility. The law limits who can enforce the restrictions and for how long. For example, if you insert restrictions in your deed and then sell or give the land away without retaining land nearby, your restrictions may not be enforceable by you or your successors.
What Is the Difference Between a Gift of Land and a Conservation Restriction?
A gift of land transfers ownership and management responsibility to the conservation organization. A conservation restriction (CR) permanently limits development and protects conservation values of the property, but leaves ownership and management responsibilities in private hands. Learn more about conservation restrictions.
Explore your options
If you would like more information about your options as a landowner, or if you would like to arrange for the Dedham Land Trust to do a site visit and discuss land protection options.
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