Land preservation activists told to be patient, choosy in pursuit of easements

April 01, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Patience is more than a virtue for newly formed land preservation organizations waiting to purchase their first easement, James H. Eacker told members of the Carroll County Land Trust Wednesday night.

It's essential to wait until the group finds a solid donor that will build respect for the trust, he said.

"You're a relatively young organization and looking for a project to do," said Mr. Eacker, president of the Howard County Conservancy, which was formed in 1990 as a private land trust to conserve agricultural property and open space.

"We were once where you are, as frustrated as you are to find a donor," he said at the land trust's annual meeting. "But it's going to take time, at least three or four months to make a deal."

The Carroll County Land Trust, a nonprofit group formed with private money in 1991 to preserve farmland, has yet to purchase an easement, or development rights, for a property.

Group members said Wednesday night that they are working to preserve a piece of land near Uniontown and have started several smaller projects.

Taking the time to find a donor truly interested in conserving land will build a good reputation for the trust, Mr. Eacker told the group. On the other hand, donors interested in conservation easements just for tax benefits may not be worth pursuing, he said.

Some of those benefits for an easement donor, which may include lower property taxes for up to 15 years, are very attractive, Mr. Eacker said.

But the donor must be willing to endure months of legal paperwork for the deal to succeed, he said.

"If the donor is doing it solely for economic benefit, I suggest that you'll be wasting your time," he said. "You want someone who wants the land preserved in perpetuity. The economic benefits are just gravy."

At the meeting, group members also elected six new directors.

George Grier of Uniontown, Daniel Dutterer of Westminster, Albin Kuhn of Woodbine, Walter Bay of Uniontown and Ralph Robertson of Westminster were elected to three-year terms.

Barbara J. Dixon of Mount Airy was elected to a one-year term to finish out former land trust President Janice Teeter's term.

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