Monday, December 14, 2015
In Vermont, a debate has flared up concerning the ability of the landowners and the state to amend perpetual conservation easements. These easements are created by property owners that want a portion of their land to be preserved in the same state of nature as when the conveyance was made and have, up until now, proved difficult to alter once recorded. However, these easements have caused controversy as later owners of the property generally want full use of the land especially when the easement gets in the way of development. In response, a plan was put forward by a prominent conservation group which would have allowed a state board to adjust easements as long as the adjustment was made with the overall goal of furthering conservation. However, opponents were quick to point out that the plan gave tremendous leeway to the state to override the wishes of the property owners that established the easements and end up with results wildly out of sync with the intent of the creator. In the end, the proposal did not gain much traction but this issue will remain in the minds of many and will likely lead to further action down the line in Vermont, and elsewhere, due to the 40 million acres of land in the US that are currently protected in this manner.
See John Echeverria & Janet Milne, PROTECTING VERMONT’S PERPETUAL CONSERVATION EASEMENTS, VT Digger, December 6, 2015.
Special thanks to Nancy A. McLaughlin for bringing this article to my attention.