Conservation Easement

Citizens Implementation Committee Project Team

 

Purpose

Goal 7: Conserve and maintain the land that provides critical open space and scenic resources.
– Step 1: “research conservation programs for tax abatements or incentives available to landowners.”


Findings

The Conservation Easement Team, along with the CIC, made the following recommendations to the Town Board:

SHORT TERM STEPS

  1. The CIC would like to request that the Town Board authorize a public outreach meeting in conjunction with Finger Lakes Land Trust to share information about the opportunity for voluntary conservation programs. The CIC would recommend that property owners with at least 30 acres be contacted via mail, information about the meeting be posted on the Town website, and via Mail Chimp. The CIC would also recommend the ECB take the lead on working with the Finger Lakes Land Trust to identify willing property owners to explore voluntary conservation easement programs.
  2. The CIC would like to recommend the Town Board consider code updates that encourage and enhance conservation of lands to protect and enhance biological diversity, protection of steep slopes, and protection of ridgelines, offering buffers on riparian areas, and logging. Many of these items are currently being considered by the NRI Team, and the CIC would like to recommend the Town Board encourage the NRI Team to consider these items for codification as the NRI Team continues their work.
  3. The CIC would like to recommend the Town Board consider opportunities for voluntary restrictive covenants through the Planning Board process. The CIC would recommend the Planning Board take the lead on exploring opportunities for options to utilize open space and conservation areas as a means to promote natural buffers to development. These opportunities could be achieved through the Planning Board’s traditional subdivision review and consideration, and serve as a means to promote open space.

INTERMEDIATE STEPS

  1. The CIC would like to recommend the Town Board look into opportunities where a right of first refusal tool might be able to be used for landowners who wish to have their property entered into a conservation easement program.
  2. The CIC would like to recommend the Town Board continue to partner with Finger Lakes Land Trust and other local groups; as well as, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets on agriculture protection through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant Program (PDR).

LONG TERM STEPS

  1. The CIC would like to recommend the Town Board consider as a longer term option the possibility of a transfer of development rights (TDR) program. Due to the level of development occurring in the Town of Canandaigua, a tool like a TDR program could be utilized to conserve open space in designated areas of the Town, while trading credits for greater density in other portions.
  2. The CIC would like to recommend the Town Board consider the outright purchase of land as it pertains to valued open space protection lands. The purchase of these parcels could be acquired through the Open Space Fund.
  3. The CIC would like to recommend the Town Board further look into the legal options that may exist to create special districts by petition for landowners who wish to voluntarily enter into a conservation district. These conservation districts would be created by a petition of Town residents to the Town Board. Property owners who wish to voluntarily enter the conservation district could be assessed a fee on their property tax bill to assist with the administration of the conservation district.

FUNDING STREAMS

  1. The CIC would like to recommend the Town Board consider a new fee for new construction in order to fund the Open Space reserve. The CIC fully understands the legality of such a fee, and the funding of the open space reserve would have to be explored. Due to the level of new development occurring in the Town of Canandaigua, the amount of open space is steadily declining. A fee linked to new development to further protect open space should be considered.
  2. The CIC would like to recommend the Town Board consider an annual appropriation from the unexpended fund balance to the Open Space Fund each year. An example the Town Board may wish to consider would be an annual appropriation of $ 100,000 from unexpended fund balance. 
  3. The CIC would like to recommend the Town Board explore what other municipalities have done to create and maintain a conservation fund such as Tompkins County.
     

 

Project Team Members

  • Ryan Staychock, Project Leader
  • Chris Lyon
  • Dennis Money
  • Joe Proe
  • Tom Schwartz
 


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