Conservation Easements?

Thread starter #1

ChidJ

Senior Member
Not sure if this is the right place to put this but I need some help/advice.

What do y'all know about Conservation Easements? Seems to me like, once they are in place, pretty difficult to modify or get rid of. So, if a man wanted to purchase a property that had one in place, what sorts of things would be restricted? Everything I've read thus far is either undiscernible legalese or very vague.

Can a person build a home? Dig a pond? Plant or cut trees? Grow crops? Put up a cell tower? Let me know what y'all know. Help an ignorant young man
 
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jimbo4116

Un-Retired Moderator
Staff member
Not sure if this is the right place to put this but I need some help/advice.

What do y'all know about Conservation Easements? Seems to me like, once they are in place, pretty difficult to modify or get rid of. So, if a man wanted to purchase a property that had one in place, what sorts of things would be restricted? Everything I've read thus far is either undiscernible legalese or very vague.

Can a person build a home? Dig a pond? Plant or cut trees? Grow crops? Put up a cell tower? Let me know what y'all know. Help an ignorant young man
I think your best source would be your county tax assessors office. Conservation Easements are different from the conservation property tax relief program.

I do know that the owner of property in the 10 year property tax relief program down to grandchildren can be deeded 5 acres to build a home. There are other restrictions on the use of the property. Pretty sure cell tower is out.
 

JustUs4All

Slow Mod
Staff member
First, If you purchase a property with a Covenant in place you would have to adopt it for it to continue in place. If the owner sells the property to you and you do not adopt it he will have some very severe tax and penalty consequences.

Second, you may do pretty much any permitted activity. Planting, growing, and harvesting trees is permitted. Building a home is permitted but not renting out that home. Growing crops is permitted but leasing a spot for a cell tower is not.

Your County Tax Assessor has a nifty brochure that will explain most of it.
 

ucfireman

Senior Member
As stated in a previous post. There are different conservation easements.
The "conservation use" for taxes is for 10 years and limits most commercial stuff
There is also a conservation program where you basically sell the developmental rights. So basically the property can never be developed.
I by far am not an expert but be careful ad ask lots of questions before you do it or buy a property with one.
And just to throw this out. There are also mineral rights etc that can be sold. I have even heard they are selling ground water rights in Tx.
Ask the folks in middle Ga how their kaolin (deal) rights worked out for them.
 
Thread starter #7

ChidJ

Senior Member
"There is also a conservation program where you basically sell the developmental rights."

This is what I was looking at. Too many downsides for me. I'm gonna pass on anything with such a deal attached
 

rip18

Senior Member
Conservation easement terms can include pretty much anything the landowner and the holder of the easement agree on (within the legal terms of conservation easements). The restrictions of the easement will be on file in the conservation easement deed. If you are looking at a property with a conservation easement already on it, take a look at the deed, talk with the landowner, and talk with the holder of the easement (often a land trust or a government agency).
 
Putting a Conservation Easement on a property is permanent. It locks the property in as green space into perpetuity, so no developer can ever get richer turning it into a neighborhood, shopping center, golf course, distribution center, etc. It severely limits use and thus appreciation of the asset, which is why it sells for much less per acre than property without one.
 

Buckstop

Senior Member
They vary from property to property and depending on the agency that purchased the easement rights and their motivations. Some are much more restrictive than others. They carry on in perpetuity. Once the rights outlined in the CE agreement are purchased (severed from the bundle of rights) they are gone. What you would be purchasing or is left is the remainder rights.

Some do provide for very limited entitlements, but most often preclude any future development and/or conversion to more intense AG uses, altering water courses and such. For some properties they have only a moderate impact, others a whole lot, depending on their highest and best use and development potential. Get a copy of the CE agreement and analyze it closely.
 
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Putting a Conservation Easement on a property is permanent. It locks the property in as green space into perpetuity, so no developer can ever get richer turning it into a neighborhood, shopping center, golf course, distribution center, etc. It severely limits use and thus appreciation of the asset, which is why it sells for much less per acre than property without one.
:rofl:
 

jimbo4116

Un-Retired Moderator
Staff member
Putting a Conservation Easement on a property is permanent. It locks the property in as green space into perpetuity, so no developer can ever get richer turning it into a neighborhood, shopping center, golf course, distribution center, etc. It severely limits use and thus appreciation of the asset, which is why it sells for much less per acre than property without one.
There are Conservation Covenants which are for 10 years per term and provide property tax relief and there are Conservation Easements which are permanent.

https://gaswcc.georgia.gov/conservation-easements
https://georgialand.com/georgias-conservation-use-assessment-covenant/
 
Yep, Conservation USE ASSESSMENT (CUVA) has absolutely nothing to do with a Conservation EASMENT. My farm is in CUVA and I have also helped other family members and friends get their land enrolled in the program through the county tax assessors office. I would NEVER, EVER put any of my land in a Conservation EASMENT, nor would I recommend it to anyone.
 

Bob2010

Senior Member
The 10 year conservation easment will still allow you to cut roads and build a house. You just can't develop a nieghborhood. It's a good deal to save on taxes but will kill you if you need to sell the property. Developers will not be interested in the land. I let mine expire and paid the full tax rate this year. We may do the covenant again next year. When a house is built and your property value goes way up. That is when the tax breaks really pay off with the covenant.
 
Another vote for the CUVA. I have to hold my property in the FLPA through 2024 and then I will switch to the CUVA. The Forest Land Protection Act is for large timber holders. The CUVA is for smaller tracts.
 
One of my biggest problems with CEs is that its a contract. Contracts and contract law(suits) have made many a lawyer good money. You set up a CE with say Georgia Super Duper CE Holdings [GSDCEH, imaginary entity here for example only], at some point in the future GSDCEH merges/acquired by/absorbed by a very large national 'conservation' group that is based in CA? NY? and they now 'interpret' the language in the contract differently or let's say more restrictively... at this point you or one of your heirs or even someone who purchased the land with the CE in place, now has the option of fighting this new interpretation, possibly in Court. Let's also say that you are of average or even above average means, are you really going to go head to head with this new 'holder' of your development rights or especially land use? You agreed to no shopping mall, but you thought your kids might be able to live/build on the old homeplace...probably not allowed since the new interpretation threatens to now prohibit that due to some 'new' ecological findings, or emphasis.
They will steam roll you or break you financially if you try to fight them and their very large in house or just around the corner law firm. (Baker McKenzie LLP- 4720 attorneys for example!)

Another issue related to this is who eventually ends up with your (everyone's) 'alienated' rights? Who ever thought the NRA would be discussing bankruptcy, as have many stalwart American companies and institutions that were large, strong, rolling in cash, but now no more? Other than death and taxes (maybe a gov't program) nothing is permanent!
 
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