COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Approval of 2006-07 ACE Appraisals

 

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Approval of seven appraisals from Round 7 ACE properties (FY 2006-07) and purchase of easements on top two properties

 

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Kamptner, Benish, Goodall, and Ms. McDowell

 

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   YES

 

 

AGENDA DATE:

September 5, 2007

 

     ACTION:                               INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

     ACTION:     X                        INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

On May 9, 2007, the Board of Supervisors approved the Acquisition of Conservation Easement (ACE) Committee’s request to have seven properties appraised from the Round 7 applicant pool (FY 2006-07). These included Strawberry Hill Farm, Clayton, Anderson, McDaniel, Sacre, Barksdale and Rives properties – the top seven ranked properties from this class (see Attachment “A”).  Based on projected easement values for this class at that time, the ACE Committee believed funding was sufficient to purchase most of the easements.  Even if current funding was insufficient to purchase all of the easements, the Committee believed it was prudent to obtain appraisals on more properties than funding would allow in the likely event that some higher ranking applicants drop out after receiving their appraisals. 

 

The role of the Board of Supervisors is to identify the easements to be purchased as provided under section A.1-111(A), which states in part: "From the list of applications received under section A.1-110(D), the board of supervisors shall designate the initial pool of parcels identified for conservation easements to be purchased. The size of the pool shall be based upon the funds available for easement purchases in the current fiscal year and the purchase price of each conservation easement in the pool established under section A.1-111(B)."  Since it is unlikely that every applicant to whom an invitation to offer to sell is sent will submit an offer, if one applicant drops out of the pool, another applicant would be added until the Program runs out of applicants or money, whichever occurs first.

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal 2: Protect the County’s Natural Resources

 

Objective 2.1: By June 30, 2010, increase the total combined acreage in permanent conservation easements and qualifying public parkland by 30,000 acres (50%) using public and private means. 

 

In order for the County to reach this objective, 7,500 acres per year would have to be placed into easement between 2006 and 2010.  A total of 6,356 acres was placed into easement in the year 2006, falling short of the first year’s target by 15%.  The ability to acquire all of the ACE FY 2006-07 applicant pool of 1,229.229 acres would further the Strategic Plan goal.

 

DISCUSSION:

In mid-July, all seven appraisals were completed.  Following their completion, the appraisals were submitted to the Appraisal Review Committee (see Attachment “B”) and received unanimous approval on August 2, 2007. The ACE Committee met on August 13 to determine the easements to recommend for purchase based on the ACE budget.  Although only $1,387,543 of funding has been appropriated for FY 2006-07, there are unused funds from the previous year of $93,041 and an additional $865,000 of supplemental funding that should be available from two sources: 1) the Office of Farmland Preservation, which will provide at least $300,000 in funds; and, 2) the Preservation Trust Fund, which will provide approximately $565,000 or 50% of the cost for acquiring the Strawberry Hill Farm easement.  Thus, the total funds available for ACE easement purchases for FY 2006-07 is anticipated to be approximately $2,345,584 (see Attachment “C”). 

Although the Office of Farmland Preservation grant has not been received, we have positive indications that our application has an excellent prospect of receiving $300,000 of grant funds after the first application stage. The deadline for the second

application stage is August 31, 2007. Matching funding from the Preservation Trust Fund for Strawberry Hill Farm was recently approved by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation Board. 

 

Since the total cost for acquiring all seven easements would exceed the FY 2006-07 ACE budget for this applicant pool, staff has offered the following options for consideration:

 

Option 1 (recommended by the ACE Committee) - purchase Strawberry Hill (the property receiving the Preservation Trust Fund matching grant) and offer the balance of funds ($1,215,294) for purchase of the Clayton property easement. Although the Claytons would receive $214,056 less than the appraised easement value, this balance could be used as a donation or tax deduction against the $1,215,294 in income.  There is the possibility of the Claytons refusing the offer to sell.  If that were to happen, the remaining funds could be used to purchase four of the remaining five easements (McDaniel, Anderson, Sacre, and Barksdale).  The County could offer the Rives property owner the remaining $273,000, although it is substantially less than his appraised easement value.  The ACE Committee also recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve the purchase of McDaniel, Anderson, Sacre, Barksdale, and Rives in the event Clayton drops out. 

 

Option 2 – purchase the two highest ranked properties (Strawberry Hill and Clayton) at full value.  This option would require an additional $214,056 in funding either from the Board or from the next ACE allocation for FY 2007-08.  The issues concerning using funds from the next fiscal year’s allocation to help purchase properties in the current fiscal year’s applicant pool are: 1) additional funding through grants or gifts to replace the FY 2007-08 funds is uncertain; 2) increasing costs of land will reduce the funding available for the next pool of applicants, thereby diminishing the opportunity of meeting the Strategic Plan Objective to acquire an additional 30,000 acres by 2010; and 3) the remaining applicants may not be available or willing to wait for the FY 2007-08 application year (deadline October 31, 2007).

 

Option 3 – purchase all FY 2006-07 properties.  This option would require an additional $2,135.356 in funding.  This option would also place 1,229.229 acres into easements and would give protection of numerous resources.

 

Details of the ACE budget for the FY 2006-07 are provided in Attachment C.

 

If the Strawberry Hill and Clayton easements are acquired, the following resources would be protected:

 

·         protection of 558 acres of farm and forestland

·         elimination of 26 development lots

·         5,304 feet of state road frontage (including 3,761 feet on a County Scenic Highway)

·         3,000 feet of protected stream and river frontage

·         9,705 feet of common boundary with other protected lands (including 6,743 feet on Beaver Creek Reservoir)

·         330 acres of “prime” farm and forestland

·         Strawberry Hill Farm has significant tourism value

·         both are productive, working farms

·         Clayton is in the watershed of the South Fork of the Rivanna River Reservoir and Beaver Creek Reservoir 

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

Funding for ACE easements are provided for in the CIP-Planning-Conservation budget (line-item 9010-81010-580409) and the CIP-Tourism-Conservation budget (line-item #9010-72030-580416), a budget previously approved by the Board to fund ACE properties with “tourism value.”  Three of the candidate properties qualify for the use of Tourism funds.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

The following recommendations are provided for action by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors:

 

1)       Approve the seven (7) appraisals by Pape and Company for applications from the year FY 2006-07 applicant pool (Strawberry Hill Farm, Clayton, Anderson, McDaniel, Sacre, Barksdale, and Rives properties--see Attachment “B”).

 

2)       Approve Option 1 as recommended by the ACE Committee: Approve the purchase of Strawberry Hill Farm, Clayton, Anderson, McDaniel, Sacre, Barksdale, and Rives properties according to the priority ranking order and based on funds available for FY2006-07.  Based on available funds, initial offers to sell will be made for Strawberry Hill Farm and the Clayton properties.

 

ATTACHMENTS

A - Ranking Order of ACE Applicants for Round 7 – FY2006-07

B - Easement Values and Acquisition Costs for Round 7 – FY2006-07

C - ACE Budget for Round 7 – FY2006-07

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