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If you have 10 or more acres of property and you want to preserve your land, you qualify. If you own two adjacent lots that together total 10 or more acres, that would also qualify for our program.
Cumberland County has a Farmland Preservation program started in 1989 which preserves farmland exclusively. When Silver Spring Township started our program in 2014, we wanted to not only preserve farms, but woodlands, meadows and other open space.
No. A parcel of land owned by a club or other organization could also be eligible if it has significant open space.
Yes. The .01% increase in the Earned Income Tax approved by voters in a 2013 referendum is the Township’s funding source for land preservation.
That varies a great deal between properties. We start by getting an appraisal done on your property. Once those results are received by the Township, the Board of Supervisors (BoS) with input from the Land Preservation Review Board (LPRB) makes a decision on the purchase price to offer for each property.
Essentially, the Township is purchasing the development rights on your land. This insures that the parcel cannot be subdivided or developed into a housing plan or warehouse. The correct terminology is purchasing a conservation easement on a parcel.
No. You will remain the owner of record. The only documented change will be limitations imposed on your land.
Yes,absolutely. The conservation easement stays with the land and is not affected by a change in ownership. The property restrictions will be enforced in perpetuity (forever).
Natural Lands Trust (our partner in preservation) defines a conservation easement as, “a voluntary, but legally binding agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization and/or a local government agency such as a township. The easement permanently limits a property’s use and binds all present and future owners of the land.”
Properties under conservation easement are divided into specific areas of protection. For example, the “Highest Protection Area” is the most environmentally sensitive portion of the parcel such as woodlands, streams and wetlands and this area is limited to passive recreational use.
No. Typically, existing and/or future residential improvements and major agricultural buildings and structures are placed in a “Minimal Protection Area” where it is anticipated that landowners will make changes over time.
A Natural Lands Trust (NLT) representative will inspect preserved properties at least annually.
No. This appraisal is conducted by an appraiser who has education and experience with conservation easements. The appraiser estimates your property’s before easement value (or fair market value) and the after easement value (with restrictions in place) and the difference between these two values is the full value of the conservation easement (what it is worth).
As noted earlier, the decision on how much to offer for the purchase of a conservation easement on particular parcels is made by the BoS. They have the difficult task of looking at the Township’s available land preservation funds and deciding how best to use them. If the BoS does offer you less than the full value of the easement, the resulting gap in value may be counted as a tax donation.
We highly recommend that you discuss any potential tax implications with your accountant or attorney before committing to the program.
Absolutely! Donating your land, or accepting less than its appraised value, will free up funds to preserve other properties in the Township. Consult with your tax advisor concerning the potential benefits of donating land.
You can fill out an application at the Township Administration Building (8 Flowers Drive) or online at http://www.sstwp.org/244/Land-Preservation-Review-Board.
Thereare two deadlines each year for accepting applications. They are the last dayof February and the last day of August.
After each deadline passes the decisionprocess begins for all applications submitted after the prior deadline.
No. You can withdraw from the program at any time. However, if your property is accepted into the Land Preservation program we will sit down with you and verify your commitment to the program. We do so because once an appraisal is ordered, administrative costs begin to accrue for the Township which would still need to be paid if you withdraw from the program.
Typically, it takes 9 months to one year, but each property has unique challenges so it could be longer.
Please contact Laura Brown by email at email@example.com or by cell phone at 717-516-1123 if you have any additional questions.