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"OPEN SPACE" TAXES. Has your town taxed you yet to "preserve" open space?

Posted on 04/05/2002 9:42:23 AM PST by 1Old Pro

Towns and communities throughout the country, but especially in the Northeast and Left Coast, are asking residents to pay a special tax so that the town or county can purchase "open spaces".

Read any local paper in these areas and you will soon come across a story concerning this. The push is by environmentalists and suburbanites who "have theirs" and don't want any more traffic or building of any kind.

It sounds nice, but a certain amount of minimum growth is necessary for the tax base. Also, who decides what tracts are purchased? Is it town leaders who decide to buy land around their homes for privacy because they didn't have the money or foresight to buy more land or a home in a different local?

Besides, what about people who don't want to have their town in the land buying and management business and believe conservation is best left to private owners.

Anyway, feel free to jump in, voice comments, experiences and thoughts.

 


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1 posted on 04/05/2002 9:42:23 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: 1Old Pro
Well, when you move to a place called "The Woodlands", which was full of lovely East Texas piney woods, and then those woods get wiped in favor of yet another shopping center, once might start to consider the benefit of that tax. Remember, this would be a local issue, and as such, pretty much up to the will of the community.

It just pains me to go to work in the morning, admiring the trees, and then come home at night to a bunch of red dirt.

And to prevent it individually, I'd have to buy land myself and then pay the property taxes for the privalege of not developing it. Not a good answer either.

LTS

2 posted on 04/05/2002 9:49:02 AM PST by Liberty Tree Surgeon
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To: Liberty Tree Surgeon
Thanks for your thoughts. What if your payment/tax didn't preserve this spot next to your hmoe but instead was spent on the other side of town on a large parcel next to your town leaders home?
3 posted on 04/05/2002 9:51:38 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: 1Old Pro
You mean like this article showing all the socialist colors of my local BOS. Latest is that they won't allow citizens in to oppose this BS.

January 23, 2002Van Huyck opposed to current PDR list

By David Bradley Staff Writer

Loudoun County Supervisors said this week that they were surprised that one of the original architects of Loudoun County “smart growth” policy had called for the postponement of the Purchase of Development Rights program.

In a letter to the editor published this week in the Loudoun Easterner, Al Van Huyck, a two-term member of the Planning Commission and its former chairman, calls the PDR program “a valuable tool,” but urges the Board of Supervisors “to postpone the implementation of the PDR program until after they have completed the rezoning process” and prepared local area plans for much of eastern and central Loudoun.

Van Huyck said the properties recommended by the PDR Board do not meet the criteria of preserving open space in eastern Loudoun or safeguarding the character of historical roads. He said he wrote the letter as an individual, not in his official capacity as a Planning Commissioner for the Blue Ridge district.

“I’m trying to be positive,” Van Huyck said Tuesday. “I just want to save the program.” Van Huyck was a member of Chairman Scott K. York’s (R-At Large) Transition Team, a group of supporters appointed by York after the 1999 election, assigned to write up recommendations for the newly elected Board. The final report of the Transition Team, “A Citizen’s Strategy For Smart Growth in Loudoun County,” delivered to the Board of Supervisors at its first meeting , was similar in many respects to a report written by Van Huyck in Oct. 1999, “A Smart Growth Strategy For Loudoun County.” Both reports recommended implementation of a Purchase of Development Rights program.

Proponents of the Purchase of Development Rights program say it will slow conversion of farm land to developmental property. Opponents of PDRs have claimed the County will end up paying non-farmers who would not have developed their land in any case.

Under a PDR arrangement, landowners will be paid to limit development of their property. Landowners entering into a PDR agreement would sell only the development rights, while retaining ownership and most other rights. In consideration of the sale of development rights, the landowner agrees to allow a conservation easement to be placed on the property, restricting certain future uses of the property.

The Board of Supervisors budgeted $4 million for the Purchase of Development Rights program last year, and another $4 million this year. A Board of Supervisors committee authorized another $180,000 contract to pay a Warrenton company to appraise properties for the PDR program.

The PDR Board, chaired by Chuck Harris (D-Broad Run) was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to select the most qualified properties from more than 150 applications the county received last year, recommended nine properties to the Board of Supervisors at its November meeting. A tenth application was recommended by the PDR Board in December.

Interviewed during the Board meeting Tuesday, six Supervisors from both sides of the PDR debate said they had not seen the Van Huyck letter, and were not aware of his call for a postponement of the program.

“Obviously something bugged him,” Eleanore Towe (D-Blue Ridge), who appointed Van Huyck to the Planning Commission, said. “I wish he had discussed it with me, or Mr. Harris, or the PDR Board. I’m sorry that he feels that way.”

“Offhand, I’d say we appropriated funds for the program in our first year, and we appointed a Board to recommend applications to us. The criteria the Board used didn’t take into account means,” Sally Kurtz said. “But is it fair to the people who applied over a year ago, to stop the program now? They could have developed their land by right, and that would have gone a lot faster than this process is going. Is it fair to them?”

“Is it damage control or an admission of guilt? An admission of guilt does not necessarily mean you get off,” Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), who has opposed the PDR program, said. “Van Huyck is responding, obviously, to the cry of the people, who agree with the concept of preserving land, but balk when it means rewarding fat cats who have already locked up the land.”

What the Board of Supervisors will do with the applications is still not certain. A vote on the recommended applications is expected before March. Delgaudio said a combination of political pressure and budget shortfalls will force the Board to end the program.

“Eradicating the PDR program from the budget is imperative, a necessity, and a command from the people,” Delgaudio said.

Other Supervisors said they will continue to support the program.

“The easement will stay with the property,” Kurtz said. “The big picture is, do you want that kind of rural enterprise near an urban area? Do you want people to be able to grow food on this property 50 or 100 years from now? Easements are for the property, not the people who live on it. It’s important, and it just makes a lot of sense, at least to me.”

“People want this PDR program, and I still think it’s a good idea,” Towe said.

Black seeks funding for property owners

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted to communicate to the Virginia General Assembly its opposition to a series of bills, some authored by Del. Dick Black (R-32nd), which Supervisors said were designed to make downzoning of property more difficult for local governments. “What he has introduced will negate what we are doing,” Jim Burton (I-Mercer) said. “And not just what we are doing, but what localities all over the state are doing. It would prevent any local jurisdiction from doing rezonings. It will give veto power to any zoning decision to landowners. It has a tremendous impact on all local governments, not just Loudoun County.”

Black proposed a bill Jan. 18 that would prohibit the forced downzoning of property without compensation to or the written permission of landowners.

The bill would force local governments to pay property owners for the devaluation of land which may occur when zoning changes reduce its development potential. The Board of Supervisors approved downzoning of much of Loudoun County last year, allowing only one home per 20- or 50-acre lot. According to Black, changes in Loudoun zoning policy, including downzoning to A-20 and A-50, combined with a July 2000 change to the Zoning Ordinance which gave the Board and Planning Commission authority to rezone property without landowner approval, put farmers’ livelihood at risk.

“This bill is focused on providing relief to farmers who may be forced into bankruptcy by downzoning to A-20 or A-50,” Black said. “I’m concerned for the farmers who are hurt by downzoning and might not be able to continue farming their land after downzoning.”

“I’m vehemently opposed to it,” Eleanore Towe (D-Blue Ridge) said. “If he’s at all fiscally responsible, he’d see that it’s a terrible fiscal burden to the citizens. Notification is expensive, and compensation means the county would have to pay a lot.”

“Delegate Black never meets with us to tell us what he’s going to do,” Towe said. “He just comes forward with these draconian measures.”

Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), the only Supervisor to vote to support most of the bills, defended Black, who was re-elected to the General Assembly last year.

“Dick Black is saying that people directly effected by a rezoning should be informed of the rezoning. Mr. Black is trying to make the system more open” Delgaudio said.

Other bills before the general assembly would require local governments to notify anyone effected by rezonings by certified mail, and would extend the amount of time prior to a rezoning that local governments would have to notify effected landowners. Currently local governments are required to advertise rezonings in newspapers and, in some cases where the rezoning will effect 25 or more parcels of land, send notification to property owners by first class mail.

“I can see no reason for it except to make if more difficult and more expensive,” County Attorney Jack Roberts said of the proposed notification changes.

Mark Herring (D-Leesburg) said local governments had an on-and-off agreement with developers last year to settle their disagreements on growth outside of the General Assembly. He said he hoped the bills which have been introduced in the first days of this years legislative session are not a signal that the cease-fire is off again.

“The General Assembly has often been unreceptive to efforts of local governments to take more control of land use,” Herring said. “Where does this leave us? It’s obviously targeted at Loudoun County efforts to control runaway growth. I’m hopeful that cooperative efforts we started last year will continue into this year, and I’m hopeful that these bills will be defeated.”

“Localities and local government can do local government best,” Chuck Harris (D-Broad Run) said. “The state government should stick to those things that they are responsible for, which I don’t think in this commonwealth they’ve been handling very well.”

Black said changes to the General Assembly in the 2001 election left him confident that his bill will become law.

“It’s my impression that this legislature values property rights more highly than the last legislature,” Black said. “I think there’s great sympathy for farmers who may lose their livelihood due to downzoning.” ––By David Bradley

Middleburg resident confronts intruder

A home invasion Monday in Middleburg involving a fight with an intruder and the theft of safe is under investigation by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s office.

A resident of a home on Sam Fred Road in Middleburg told investigators that he was confronted by an intruder after he was awakened by the family dog shortly before 4 a.m. The man fought with the intruder and was able to remove his ski mask to see a black man with braided hair, according to the Sheriff’s report.

The intruder grabbed the resident’s wife and was dragging her down a stairway when the husband struck the man with a rifle until it broke, he told investigators. The intruder then left the home.

The victim reported hearing a car leave the area and discovered that a safe was missing, according to the report. The family dog apparently received an injury to the head during the home invasion. Persons with informaition are asked to call the Criminal Investigations Unit at 703 777-0475.

4 posted on 04/05/2002 9:56:42 AM PST by CJ Wolf
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To: Liberty Tree Surgeon
Up here in New England, they support towns buying up old farms for "open spaces" under the guise that the cost to buy the open scace is less than what the town would spend to increase the public infrastructure to accomodate incremental residents if the land was subdivided. So the current resident taxes go through the roof, instead of increasing tax roles on the potential build-out. Check the math, it doesn't make an ounce of sense.

Then our town spent a $million to build a gazebo on top of a polluted small pond, next to town hall, for "beautification".

I'm still trying to figure out the cost per duck!

5 posted on 04/05/2002 10:01:00 AM PST by aShepard
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To: CJ Wolf
Good info, thanks
6 posted on 04/05/2002 10:03:17 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: aShepard
Check the math, it doesn't make an ounce of sense.

I'd love to see a Cato Institute or Heritage Foundation study on this.

7 posted on 04/05/2002 10:04:43 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: 1Old Pro
Boulder did that a long time ago. They didn't want the suburbs enroaching upon their isolated fair city. The last decade of explosive growth in Colorado seems to have justified their decision.

8 posted on 04/05/2002 10:06:19 AM PST by The Green Goblin
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To: The Green Goblin
Sounds like elitism to me.
9 posted on 04/05/2002 10:08:01 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: 1Old Pro
BTW, I included the middleberg story so that people can see that people should keep the rifle loaded. (hit him with the rifle till it broke, LOL)
10 posted on 04/05/2002 10:09:38 AM PST by CJ Wolf
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To: CJ Wolf
people should keep the rifle loaded

LOL is right.

11 posted on 04/05/2002 10:17:06 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: 1Old Pro
Here in Massachusetts, we have the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in which towns or city's can vote to tack on up to a 3% surcharge onto property tax bills in order to purchase open space, preserve historic buildings / sites, or to develop affordable housing. The state will match some of the towns share. This state money is raised through some sort of new fee placed on real estate transactions...I may be off somewhat in this area so dont quote me.

You all may be surprised that the majority of the towns up here so far have rejected the CPA...probably about 40% of the communities that have put it to public vote have accepted it with the remaining 60% rejecting it (rough numbers). In fact even Boston, by a close vote, rejected it this past fall.

I dont particularly believe in the CPA although Id rather have towns and private conservation groups buy property to keep as open space rather than place questionably legal growth restrictions within communities that, in effect, take away land owners rights. It seems blatant to me that when it comes to open space around here, some in power have THEIRS already and want the open space to come from OTHERS property. Ive been dying to tell some in power around here that if they're such big fans of open space...to bulldoze their house, remove the foundation, and reseed the lot. Im guessing it wouldnt go over too well but maybe the point would be made.

12 posted on 04/05/2002 10:39:10 AM PST by CastleMan95
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To: CastleMan95
Thanks. I remember reading about this in the Newton (yes, that Newton) weekly last year.
13 posted on 04/05/2002 10:41:31 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: 1Old Pro
Sounds like a group of people who don't want Section 8 apartments going in just down the road.

That's not elitism, that's pragmatism. Greenspace enhances property value, low rent housing diminishes it. Sounds like something I'd pay a little extra for.

LTS

14 posted on 04/05/2002 10:43:15 AM PST by Liberty Tree Surgeon
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To: The Green Goblin
Boulder is full of hippies and socialists. Did the landowners sell their development rights willingly, or was their land turned into "protected open space" againt their will? I've been there a few times, and never really got a good answer to that.

AB

15 posted on 04/05/2002 10:47:18 AM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: 1Old Pro
In my town, the "liberal" democrats are using the open space money to buy land from their rich democrat cronies, whereas when the homeowners in the environmentally sensitive areas want protection from development, they are told to go to hell. democrat cronies also have interests in developing those lands.

I have learned that the wealthy republican areas want to preserve open space, and the democrats want to develop everything and run the republicans out, drop home values, and bring in more democrats.

our democrat controlled newspaper did one story on this when the democrats took what could be cast as pro environmental action one time. It's all been downhill from there and guess what? The newspaper won't print stories that might make the dems look bad. Nice corrupt world.

16 posted on 04/05/2002 11:03:16 AM PST by Williams
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To: Liberty Tree Surgeon
The local gov buy the property.
The tax base needs expanding or
in order to attract business, the property is leased (99yrs)
to a development for some atractions, wal mart or mall

The town gov gets their kickbacks and they then control
who develops what
How about just buy certain rights of the property?
For example pay the owner to agree to restrict the property to
certain types of single family homes with a minimum acerage per home (no zero lots)

You could even have monotony codes for those sinister
homeowner associations.
There are ways to do this within the constitutional confines

17 posted on 04/05/2002 11:07:49 AM PST by Greeklawyer
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To: 1Old Pro
The best way to preserve open space is for towns and states and counties to agree to NOT ASSESS PROPERTY TAX on ANY UNDEVELOPED PROPERTY.

It is the taxation of undeveloped property that forces people to break land into parcels and sell it.

18 posted on 04/05/2002 11:10:01 AM PST by Lazamataz
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To: Lazamataz
Bingo. I was just going to say the same thing. If they really want to keep land undeveloped, they wouldn't tax undeveloped land.

It sounds to me like what they're really after is more gov't ownership of land.

19 posted on 04/05/2002 11:12:45 AM PST by B Knotts
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To: Williams
Interesting, thanks.
20 posted on 04/05/2002 11:16:49 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: Lazamataz
We have "conservation easements" for owners of I believe 10 or more acres. They get substantial reduction in rates, which in effect are a tax on others to make up the balance, in exchange for not developing their land. Many people are hesitant to do this because they want to keep their options open, but it does seem to have the effect you suggest.
21 posted on 04/05/2002 11:20:27 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: B Knotts
I think that would work to a point but here in lower Fairfield county CT the profit to be made in developing land fare exceeds any tax benefits.
22 posted on 04/05/2002 11:20:48 AM PST by always vigilant
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To: 1Old Pro
In Greenwich, CT, we just spend more than 30 million dollars for 160 acres or so.
23 posted on 04/05/2002 11:23:07 AM PST by Rodney King
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To: 1Old Pro
I enjoy the "Open Spaces" in my area. I walk my dog almost every day on land like that. Where I live, we don't need more housing. We have had surplus taxes in the last few years, and the police have shinny new vehicles as a result. Our schools are becomming over-crowded. I am 100% in favor of preserving open spaces, and would be happy to never see another development being built.
24 posted on 04/05/2002 11:28:04 AM PST by Snowy
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To: Rodney King
That's expensive real estate.
25 posted on 04/05/2002 11:32:14 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: Snowy
Should your neighbors be taxed so that you can walk your dog? Why not buy some acreage for yourself?
26 posted on 04/05/2002 11:33:37 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: 1Old Pro
Well, its right in the heart of town, where prime building lots go for 700-800K.
27 posted on 04/05/2002 11:34:37 AM PST by Rodney King
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To: CJ Wolf
Did you see that those crooks are trying to refinance the Government Center in Leesburg again.
28 posted on 04/05/2002 11:38:35 AM PST by CJinVA
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To: 1Old Pro
Should your neighbors be taxed so that you can walk your dog?

They walk their dogs too. ;-) Most people I have spoken too like the idea of preserving open space. Overdevelopment has already ruined the natural water table, not to mention the added traffic of more residences. As I stated before, our schools are pretty packed. Don't you think added another elementary school would raise taxes?

29 posted on 04/05/2002 1:10:07 PM PST by Snowy
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To: Lazamataz
The best way to preserve open space is for towns and states and counties to agree to NOT ASSESS PROPERTY TAX on ANY UNDEVELOPED PROPERTY.

It is the taxation of undeveloped property that forces people to break land into parcels and sell it.

This is so true. I have a neighbor, who lived and farmed on his parents farm most of his life. Being in his 70's now, with no children to farm for him and little retirement income to pay the property taxes, he had to sell. While he sold his farm for a cool million and will live out his days in comfort, he really wanted to stay home on the farm. Taxes forced him to sell.

30 posted on 04/06/2002 5:49:12 AM PST by Kay Ludlow
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To: Snowy
our schools are pretty packed. Don't you think added another elementary school would raise taxes?

Business development is preferable to housing developments because they are considerably less stress on schools and thus school taxes.

31 posted on 04/08/2002 7:35:17 AM PDT by 1Old Pro
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To: Rodney King
In Greenwich, CT, we just spend more than 30 million dollars for 160 acres or so.

Yeah, and then the "leaders" of the town complain that housing is so expensive in town. Somehow basic economics were never taught to these people: when you cut supply, prices rise. It's gotten to the point where over 80% of the Policemen and Firemen do not live in the town, and some drive for more than an hour to get to work. Of course, if there's ever an emergency, it may take a while to get backup, but we've got open space...

Of course, most of this space was probably going to be commercial space. But this just forces people to have to drive further to buy anything. Local residents were up in arms about a new Costco in Port Chester, NY (next town over). But if you don't allow any local CostCos, then everyone that wants to go to CostCo has to drive 12 or 15 miles to the next one. Which further exacerbates the traffic problems.

Another thing that is REALLY irksome is that all the leaders of local communities think that the way to improve traffic is to spend more on the local trains. Local trains do carry a great number of people. However, there's very limited parking at most train stations: waiting lists for a parking permit can be seven years for some stations. But whenever there's a proposal to build a parking garage that can hold more cars, all the locals go nuts about how a parking garage would really hurt the character of the neighborhood.

32 posted on 04/08/2002 7:47:11 AM PDT by Koblenz
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To: Koblenz
Another thing that is REALLY irksome is that all the leaders of local communities think that the way to improve traffic is to spend more on the local trains. Local trains do carry a great number of people. However, there's very limited parking at most train stations: waiting lists for a parking permit can be seven years for some stations. But whenever there's a proposal to build a parking garage that can hold more cars, all the locals go nuts about how a parking garage would really hurt the character of the neighborhood.

So true.

33 posted on 04/08/2002 7:52:02 AM PDT by 1Old Pro
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