What is a Conservation Easement?

A conservation easement is a contract between an owner of environmentally sensitive land and Harding Land Trust to protect that property from development. You, as a landowner in Harding Township, have an interest in ensuring the unspoiled surroundings we enjoy. Protecting your land is beneficial for both you and our community.

What restrictions are imposed by this legal agreement?

A conservation easement is based on the principle that land ownership rights are separable. By granting an easement, you accept less than all of the rights that normally come with land ownership. You agree not to develop the land further or to alter the landscape, for example, by excavating or filling, removing healthy native trees, or planting of nonnative species.

What benefits are there for me?

An easement enhances the value of residential real estate, while preserving the environmental values of your land. You continue to enjoy living on your property, while protecting it from further development. You may also benefit from a lower property tax assessment. Because Harding Land Trust qualifies as a 501(c)(3) corporation under I.R.S. regulations, a donor of property to the Trust for conservation purposes may claim an income tax deduction for a charitable donation. The value of this donation is determined through an appraisal of the market value of the donated easement.

Would an easement benefit my heirs?

When a conservation easement has been placed on real estate holdings, your heirs may benefit from reduced estate taxes.

Who will know what goes on at my property?

A conservation easement gives the Trust the responsibility to monitor in perpetuity the usage of your land. An easement also provides a legal tool for the Trust to ensure that the easement is respected by future owners, by giving the Trust the necessary rights and remedies to enable it to enforce that easement.

Will the public have access to my land?

No, although a conservation easement provides a public benefit by permanently protecting resources, your land is still your private property. Only representatives from the Harding Land Trust may come onto your property during monitoring. They will notify you in advance of their visit. When an easement is granted, the site is surveyed, and the boundaries of the conservation easement are permanently marked.

If I’m considering purchase of an additional property, how will I know if a conservation easement already exists on that land?

A title search will reveal an existing easement.

How do I get started?

Get in touch with the Harding Land Trust! We can provide a sample easement, contacts with professionals and other easement donors, and are always glad to talk with you. We can be reached at (973) 267-2515.


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