Thursday, November 24, 2005
ON THANKSGIVING DAY...
a bow of appreciation to Charles Eliot
I've always admired Charles Eliot. Even as a child, he was a hero of mine. I remember Grandpa singing his praises. In fact, it was he who Grandpa said inspired the intentional community my grandparents and their friends founded on an island south of Cuba many, many years ago.
Charles Eliot was a well known landscape architect back then, around the turn of the 19th century. A bright light in the field of human-scale development, he pioneered many of the fundamental principles of regional planning and laid the conceptual groundwork for land and historical conservancies.
Of special interest to me is the fact that he outlined a strategy for conserving areas of scenic beauty. The quickening pace of development beyond metropolitan Boston, where he lived and worked, concerned Eliot. Thus, he proposed an unique park system in the form of a trust.. Land Trusts got their start that way. I sometimes wonder if my grandparents would be surprised to know how those early seeds have bloomed.
Today land trusts have matured into "privately based, nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable corporations and partnerships whose primary focus is to conserve open space or purchase conservation easements are growing in popularity and size." See: http://www.privatelandownernetwork.org/PLNpro/Legal%20Defense%20And%20Enforcement%20Of%20Conservation%20Easements.asp
You will find conservation-minded organizations in small towns, operating locally.You will find them operating regionally and statewide such as the North Carolina regional chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and our land trust, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. http://www.carolinamountain.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=6&Itemid=26
Cooperating, these two organizations recently were recognized with the Smart Growth Awards from Smart Growth Partners of Western North Carolina http://www.ncsmartgrowth.org/ .
I see Charles Eliot's creative influence in so many possibilities available for us today.
EXAMPLE: Check out the above link detailing how selected communities can receive assistance in taking the principles Eliot first envisioned to put them into practice from a team of experts who will be organized by EPA and other national partners to work with local leaders. More:
There is much to intrigue the observing person in the Greater Asheville area. Take for example one of the 4TERRA Team at The ECO STEWARD Real Estate Company 's pet projects -- working to preserve a fabulous viewpoint at BUZZARD ROCK (pictured above.)
Funded largely through membership dues and donations from individuals or businesses, people like you and the members of the 4TERRA TEAM collectively are focusing on protecting working and fallow farmland, forests, wildlife habitat, watersheds, ranches, wetlands and urban gardens, and trails in Western North Carolina. As one local attorney notes," Combining philanthropy, local partnerships of disparate land use players and an understanding of tax laws and real estate property assessment, land trusts use different legal mechanisms to keep land in ownership plans limiting or outright banning development in perpetuity."
She further explains that land trusts accomplish their mission in a number of ways including
1) Direct land acquisition or gifts. In some cases, a land trust will purchase parcels of land through money obtained from individual donations, fundraising campaigns, and memberships.
2) Conservation easements Under an easement, the landowner agrees to give up development rights in perpetuity, but retains ownership and gains some tax benefits.
3) Limited development. Another approach is limited development--selling some of the land in to preserve the rest." For example an alternative t- a farmer sells land to be subdivided but restricts this to a constructing only a small number of homes clustered in one small area while preserving the rest as open space or even leasing the rest for farming.
4) Community Land Trusts. A kind of limited development land trust that goes beyond providing market-rate housing, the community land trust addresses the need for open space preservation with a provision for low-income or affordable housing units in an area where escalating land values make it difficult for local residents to continue living.
If you are interested in creating a land legacy, we can
1) Help you find the land
2) Refer you to a number of environmental consultants to take you step-by step through the process of securing and developing your dream.
And, yes---TAX ADVANTAGES DO EXIST.
Please let us know what's most important to you.