Presented on behalf of The Morris Land Trust September 11, 2009 By Melissa Spear Connecticut Conservation Practitioners, LLC

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1 Presented on behalf of The Morris Land Trust September 11, 2009 By Melissa Spear Connecticut Conservation Practitioners, LLC

2 Total Land Area 3,275,760 Acres CLEAR Data 2006 clear.uconn.edu

3 CLEAR 2006 (clear.uconn.edu)

4 CLEAR 2006 (clear.uconn.edu)

5 CLEAR 2006 (clear.uconn.edu)

6 Statutory Goal established in 1997 to preserve 21% of Connecticut s land area (673,210 acres) 10% is to be acquired by the State of Connecticut 11% is to be protected by others i.e. land trusts, municipalities, water authorities Governor Roland set target date of 2023 for reaching goal The State Department of Agricultural has established a separate goal to protect 130,000 acres of farmland

7 How are we doing? 480,000 acres protected (71% of goal) State of Connecticut is at 78% of goal (251,000 acres) Others are at 65% of goal (230,000 acres) BUT in order to reach our goal in 2023 State will have to protect 4500 acres per year Others must protect 5000 acres per year Department of Agriculture has purchased development rights on 35,000 acres as of 2008 (26% of goal). Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection 2006 The Green Plan, Sep 2007

8 Connecticut DEP 2006 The Green Plan, Sep 2007

9 Open Space Acquisitions* $119,000,000 Farmland Acquisitions $11,000,000 *Includes $80 million for Kelda lands

10 Connecticut State Expenditures on Open Space and Farmland Protection: $140,000,000 $120,000,000 $100,000,000 $80,000,000 $60,000,000 $40,000,000 $20,000,000 $

11 State vs. Municipal Expenditure $40,000,000 $35,000,000 $30,000,000 $25,000,000 $20,000,000 $15,000,000 $10,000,000 $5,000,000 $ State Expenditure Municipal Expenditure

12 Municipality Date Conservation Finance Funds Mechanism Approved % Yes % No Woodbridge* Nov-06 Other $1,616,000 N/A Simsbury Nov-06 Bond/Other $7,000,000 59% 41% Mansfield Nov-06 Bond $1,000,000 72% 28% Wethersfield Nov-06 Bond $4,000,000 59% 41% Shelton Nov-06 Bond $4,300,000 75% 25% Tolland Nov-06 Bond $2,000,000 73% 27% Killingworth Feb-06 Bond $2,650,000 80% 20% South Windsor Nov-05 Bond $4,000,000 64% 36% Farmington May-05 Bond $1,000,000 61% 39% East Lyme* Apr-05 Bond $2,000,000 N/A Newtown* Mar-05 Bond $10,000,000 N/A Glastonbury Nov-04 Bond $4,000,000 67% 33% Manchester Nov-04 Bond $3,000,000 58% 42% Shelton Nov-04 Bond $3,000,000 78% 22% Plainville Nov-04 Bond $950,000 62% 38% New Hartford Jun-04 Bond $1,500,000 74% 26% Farmington May-04 Bond $1,500,000 67% 32% Southington Apr-04 Bond $1,610,000 68% 32% Glastonbury Nov-03 Bond $3,000,000 73% 27% Shelton Nov-03 Bond $2,000,000 72% 28% Tolland Nov-03 Bond $2,000,000 72% 28% Southington Oct-03 Bond $2,000,000 71% 29% Orange Sep-03 Bond $2,000,000 71% 29% Granby Jun-03 Bond $2,100,000 70% 30% Farmington May-03 Bond $3,500,000 59% 41% East Haddam Jan-03 Bond $5,000,000 85% 15% * Passed at Town Meeting

13 State Funds Acquired by the State Acquired by Others Using State Open Space Grant Award Municipal Funds Private Donations!!!!! Donations of $$ to Land Trusts for Land Acquisition Donations of Land or Conservation Easements to Land Trusts

14 Two ways to conserve land: Transfer of the land in fee to a Conservation Entity Transfer of a Conservation Easement to a Conservation Entity

15 WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO OWN LAND? Land owners actually own a bundle of rights that pertain to the use of the land, including: The right to develop the land by constructing roads, dams, buildings, fences, cell towers, etc. The right to remove timber, soil, minerals, water or other resources from the land The right to restrict access to the land The right to farm the land The right to subdivide and sell the land

16 When land is transferred in fee it means ALL of the rights that go along with ownership of that land are transferred (to a Conservation Entity) A Conservation Easement specifies which specific rights will be transferred to the Easement Holder and which will remain with the Land Owner

17 Even when property is transferred in fee to a Conservation Entity, certain rights may be (temporarily) retained by the landowner. For example: The landowner may retain life use of the property The landowner may retain the right to cut cord wood for a certain number of years The landowner may retain the right to recreate on the property for a specified period of time

18 A Conservation Easement (CE) is a legal agreement between a landowner and an eligible organization (Conservation Entity) that restricts the activities that may take place on a property in order to protect the land s conservation values. A CE allows landowners to continue to own and use their land, including sell it or pass it on to their heirs

19 The terms of a CE are negotiated based on the agreed upon conservation values of the property and the uses and activities that need to be restricted to protect these values The CE should describe in detail exactly what rights a property owner gives up and retains.

20 Conservation Easements can serve many different purposes Historic Preservation Easements protect historic structures Agricultural Easements preserve ongoing agricultural operations Scenic Easements protect important viewsheds Working Forest Easements protect land managed for timber production Trail Easements preserve trail corridors

21 Generally, the rights given up by the landowner will include at minimum: The right to subdivide land The right to develop the land (for commercial or residential use) The right to mine the land Often the CE may modify the landowners right to restrict access. For example: The CE may grant the Easement Holder the right to offer a specified number of public walks on the property per year

22 The CE may also place restrictions on certain rights retained by the landowner. For example: Timber can only be harvested in accord with a specific forest management plan Buildings of a maximum dimension can only be constructed in a certain area and only to support the continued agricultural use of the property

23 The CE may also create certain obligations for the landowner. For example: The landowner may be obligated to manage the forest in accord with an agreed upon Forest Management Plan The CE will also grant the Easement Holder the right to inspect and enforce the restrictions placed on the land A CE is meant to be permanent. The CE is filed on the land records and runs with the land so that all future owners of the land are bound by its terms

24 Community Benefits Preserving Community Character Protecting the Rural Economy Fish and Wildlife Recreation Farming and Forestry Controlling Property Taxes Cost of Community Services Property Tax Effects Increasing Property Values Maintaining Quality of Life Sustaining Ecosystem Services Water Quality Air Quality

25 Protecting the Rural Economy Fish and Wildlife Recreation* $873 Million expended for outdoor recreation in Connecticut 7983 related jobs Community Benefits Farming and Forestry+ $523 million in cash receipts state wide $397 million in farm related expenditures state wide $28 million in farm related expenditures in Litchfield County 19,200 farm related jobs state wide *National Wildlife Federation and International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies + Planning for Agriculture, a publication of AFT and CCM

26 Community Benefits Controlling Property Taxes Cost of Community Services Cost to Provide Community Services per Dollar of Revenue Raised: Litchfield, CT 1995* Residential Commercial and Industrial $1.11 $0.34 $0.34 Working and Open Land * Planning for Agriculture, a publication of AFT and CCM

27 Community Benefits Controlling Property Taxes Property Tax Effects* Taxes are higher in towns with more residential or commercial development, towns with higher tax bases, towns with less open land The equalized mill rate is lower in rural vs. developed towns * Ad Hoc Associates 1995

28 Community Benefits Preserving Community Character Protecting the Rural Economy Fish and Wildlife Recreation Farming and Forestry Controlling Property Taxes Cost of Community Services Property Tax Effects Increasing Property Values Maintaining Quality of Life Sustaining Ecosystem Services Water Quality Air Quality

29 Create/Protect a Legacy Accessing equity Taking advantage of potential tax benefits Income Tax Estate Tax Property Tax Landowner Benefits

30 I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY OR AN ACCOUNTANT THIS PRESENTATION IS NOT GIVING LEGAL OR TAX ADVICE IT IS JUST GIVING INFORMATION

31 Donated land will produce a full Fair Market Value tax deduction Fair Market Value is defined as the price at which the property would change hands between a willing seller and a willing buyer both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts. To qualify as a charitable donation land must have been owned for at least one year by the donor before its donation

32 The value of a land donation may be deducted up to 30% a maximum of adjusted gross income in any given year Donated value above the annual 30% limit may be carried forward for up to 5 years When a landowner sells property to an eligible conservation organization at a bargain price, they may claim a charitable deduction equal to the difference between the fair market value of the property and the sales price.

33 No Capital Gains Tax will be owed on the appreciated value of donated land The instrument of conveyance to the eligible conservation entity receiving the land donation must require that the conservation purposes which the contribution was originally intended to advance continue to be carried out even if the land is subsequently transferred to another owner

34 INCOME TAX IMPACTS The donation or bargain sale of an easement may be considered a tax deductible, charitable gift provided that: The easement is perpetual It is donated exclusively for conservation purposes It is donated to a qualified conservation entity

35 Conservation Purposes are generally defined as: The preservation of land for outdoor recreation or the education of the general public The protection of habitat or ecosystems The preservation of open space for scenic enjoyment or pursuant to a clearly delineated government policy that, in either case, yields a significant public benefit The preservation of a land area or structure with historical significance

36 Qualified Organizations include: A Unit of Government A 501(c)(3) public charity such as a land trust A 509(a)(2) such as the Girl Scouts Other requirements Subordination of encumbrances

37 Expanded Tax Incentives for CEs Applies to donated/bargain sale CEs through 2009 Raises deduction from 30% to 50% of AGI per year Extends carry-forward period from 5 to 15 years Allows qualifying farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of AGI (land must remain available for agriculture)

38 What is a qualified rancher or farmer? Someone who receives more than 50% of their income from the trade or business of farming Also applies to farms or ranches organized as C corporations

39 FMV of donated property = $2,000,000 Adjusted Gross Income = $100,000 per year 1. Fee Donation Deduction equals $30,000 (30% of AGI) in first year and each of the next 5 years Total Deduction = $180, Easement Donation Deduction equals $50,000 (50% of AGI) in first year and each of the next 15 years Total Deduction = $800, Farm Easement Deduction equals $100,000 (100% of AGI) in first year and each of the next 15 years Total Deduction = $1,600,000

40 ESTATE TAX IMPACTS Donations of CE to a qualifying organization may be deducted from taxable value of an Estate Up to $500,000 of the value of restricted fee land subject to a qualified CE may also be excluded from the taxable value of an Estate Heirs may donate a CE on inherited lands and get estate tax benefits post-mortem

41 PROPERTY TAX IMPACTS When a property is subject to a CE its fair market value is reduced Some towns recognize this change in value and will assess conserved lands at a lower value leading to a lowering of the property taxes owed on conserved property This policy varies from town to town Morris???

42 For tax purposes, Fair Market Value must be determined by a narrative appraisal conducted by a qualified appraiser CE value is determined by a before and after appraisal

43 Scoping and Project Selection Reaching Agreement Due Diligence Funding Close Project Timeline: 1 to 3 years

44 Essential Elements Conservation Value Water Wildlife Scenic Amenities/Community Character Connectivity Prime Agricultural Soils Availability of conservation funding POCD status Willing seller/donor

45 Timing of funding sources Grant Cycles Federal Appropriations Process Municipal Approval Process Fundraising Campaigns Phased Purchase Due Diligence Title Survey Appraisal Environmental

46 All photos used in this presentation are from the Morris Town Website

47 Questions?

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