COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
Acquisition of Dutnell Easement
Request Approval to Purchase Dutnell Easement
Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Herrick, Cilimberg, Benish, Goodall
LEGAL REVIEW: Yes
May 6, 2009
ACTION: X INFORMATION:
Pursuant to prior Board authorizations, the County has completed its purchases of the two highest-ranked easements from the Acquisition of Conservation Easement (ACE) FY 08 applicant class The County completed its purchase of the highest-ranked Anderson easement (247.8 acres) on January 20, 2009, and of the second-ranked Garnett easement (71.5 acres) on December 29, 2008, On November 5, 2008, the Board directed staff to invite offers to sell conservation easements from the remaining eligible applicants from the FY 08 class in priority order, continuing through the applicant pool until available funding was exhausted. Following the Board’s direction, staff extended invitations to Michael Hudson and Leif Riddervold, who owned the next highest-ranked properties. However, given the relatively limited funds remaining after the initial two purchases, each of them declined to sell an easement. In response to staff’s invitation to the owner of the next highest-ranked property, Peter Dutnell has offered to sell an easement over his 152.9-acre property (see Attachment “D”).
The role of the Board in inviting and accepting offers to sell conservation easements is provided under Albemarle County Code section A.1-111(C)-(E). Specifically, under section A.1-111(C), the Board is to invite eligible owners to submit an offer to sell a conservation easement. Under section A.1-111(D), each owner who desires to sell and/or donate a conservation easement shall submit a written offer for consideration. Then, under section A.1-111(E), the Board is authorized to accept these offers to sell. The question presently before the Board is whether to accept the current offer of Peter Dutnell to sell a conservation easement over his property for the previously approved price of $118,000.
Goal 2.1 – “Protect and/or preserve the County’s rural character”
Goal 2.2 – “Protect and/or preserve 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.
The Board allocated $1,627,000 in funds to the ACE Program for FY 08. Following acquisition of the two highest-ranked easements, approximately $120,746 was left to fund any remaining, eligible easements. In addition to County budgeted funds, the County has received a $49,900 grant from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), which can be applied to an easement acquisition. Because the easement value for Hudson was $582,800, the County could offer only a small fraction (21%) of its value. As a result, Hudson rejected the offer. Following Hudson in the ranking order was Riddervold, the fourth ranking applicant. Riddervold rejected the County’s offer due to his objection to the easement valuation. This left Dutnell, the fifth ranked property in the FY 08 class. With the $120,746 budgeted and the $49,900 available from the VDACS grant, the County has adequate funds to purchase the $118,000 Dutnell easement. Purchase of an easement on the Dutnell property is consistent with the ACE Committee’s ranking/purchase recommendations and with the Board’s action of November 5.
Acquisition of the Dutnell easement would protect 152.9 acres of farm and forestland, of which 107 acres is “prime” farm and forestland, protect 4,360 feet of common boundary with other protected lands, provide 1,200 feet of riparian buffer on two perennial streams, and eliminate 12 development lots. This acquisition would bring the totals for the FY 08 ACE easements to:
· protection of 472 acres of farm and forestland
· elimination of 32 development lots
· 7,578 feet of state road frontage
· 2,462 feet of riparian buffer on the Hardware River, 5824 feet on the South Fork of the Hardware River, and 1200 feet on two perennial streams
· Natural Heritage resources were found within ¼ mile of two properties
· Anderson lies in the Southern Albemarle Rural Historic District
· 13,541 feet of common boundary with other protected lands
· 357 acres of “prime” farm and forestland
· Anderson has significant tourism value
Funding for the purchase of these conservation easements comes from 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.”
Staff recommends that the Board adopt the attached Resolution (Attachment E) to accept Mr. Dutnell’s offer to sell an ACE easement over his property for $118,000.
A - Ranking Order of ACE Properties for Round 8 (FY 2007-08)
B - Easement Values and Acquisition Costs for Round 8 (FY 2007-08)
C - ACE Budget for Round 8 (FY 2007-08)
D - Offer to Sell Dutnell Easement to County
E - ACE Resolution Accepting Offer to Sell Dutnell Easement to County
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