COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Acceptance of FY 2008-09 landowners’ offers to sell conservation easements

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Adopt resolution accepting FY 2008-09 landowners’ offers to sell conservation easements.

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Cilimberg, Benish, and Goodall

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:

December 2, 2009

 

ACTION:                INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:   X          INFORMATION:   

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

BACKGROUND:
On August 5, 2009, the Board approved the ACE Committee’s recommendations to: 1) approve the appraisals of the top six ranked properties from the FY 2008-09 applicant pool; 2) approve the purchase of ACE easements on the top five ranked properties for Round 9, (McDaniel, E.N. Garnett, M. Hudson, Magerfield, and C. Hudson); and 3) authorize staff to invite these five applicants to make written offers to sell conservation easements to the County.  All five applicants have submitted written offers to sell their respective easements to the County. 

Albemarle County Code § A.1-111(D) requires each landowner who desires to sell a conservation easement to submit a written offer to the County to sell the easement for a fixed price, determined by an appraisal and subject to an adjustment based on adjusted gross income.  The easement is also subject to the terms and conditions contained in a proposed deed of easement negotiated by the parties.  Albemarle County Code § A.1-111(E) further requires that, if the Board accepts the offer, it must do so in writing and only after an action by the Board authorizing acceptance.  The Board is not required to accept an offer to sell a conservation easement and nothing in the ACE ordinance obligates the board to purchase a conservation easement on any property that meets the minimum number of qualifying points.  Under Albemarle County Code § A.1-109(E), the Albemarle County Public Recreational Facilities Authority (“PRFA”) or the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (“VOF”) may be co-holders of the easements.

STRATEGIC PLAN:

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. 

 

Acquiring easements for the top five (5) appraised properties from this class would protect 741 acres.

 

DISCUSSION:
For the FY 2008-09 applicant pool, a total of $1,627,685 is available for acquiring easements ($1,577,785 in combined CIP and Tourism funds and another $49,900 from an Office of Farmland Preservation grant).  This amount will cover the acquisition of the top five ranked properties - McDaniel, E.N. Garnett, M. Hudson, Magerfield, and C. Hudson - at a combined cost of $1,518,860 (see Attachment B).  

Owner                           Total Acreage                Easement Value            ACE Payment               Co-holder

McDaniel, James           177.259 acres                $ 445,000                      $ 178,000 (40%)            PRFA  

Garnett, E.N.                 113.000 acres                $ 113,000                      $ 106,220 (94%)            PRFA               

Hudson, Michael           217.140 acres                $ 600,000                      $ 564,000 (94%)            PRFA  
Sarah Magerfield           108.860 acres                $ 381,000                      $ 358,140 (94%)            PRFA  
Charles P. Hudson        124.987 acres                $ 312,500                      $ 312,500 (100%)           PRFA  

Total                            741.246 acres               $1,851,500                    $1,518,860 (82%)

 

Acquisition of the top five ranked properties in the FY 2008-09 applicant pool would eliminate 59 development rights (DRs) and provide protection to the following resources:   

·         741 acres of farm and forestland
·         6,085 feet of state road frontage
·         5,454 feet of riparian stream including 2,154 feet along the James River
·         140 acres of “mountaintop protection”
·         15,533 feet of common boundary with other protected lands and Walnut Creek Park
·         416 acres of “prime” farm and forestland
·         3 of the 5 properties are working family farms
·         all five properties have “tourism value”

In addition, a summary of all the conservation values protected by the ACE Program after nine rounds of applications (including this pool) is found in Attachment D. 

Staff is pursuing the possibility of acquiring an additional easement (the Thurman easement, valued at $245,000) using the remaining balance of $108,825 (after acquisition of the five properties noted above) and a new grant commitment from the USDA Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.  Since ACE funding without the USDA Grant award is insufficient to purchase an easement on Thurman, an invitation to make a written offer to sell could not be extended unless she was agreeable to accepting the terms of the grant.  This grant was first offered to Mr. Michael Hudson, who determined that under his particular circumstances, the terms of the grant would not be acceptable.  The other four applicants with higher ranking did not meet the particular grant criteria. Mrs. Thurman is now considering whether the terms of the grant are acceptable to her.  If not, the grant can be used on a qualifying property from the FY 2009-10 applicant pool provided the easement acquisition is closed by March 2011.  No action is being requested from the Board at this time regarding the Thurman property.  Should Mrs. Thurman accept the conditions of the grant, the Board would need to approve the purchase of an ACE easement on the property and, subsequent to that action, accept an offer to sell from the property owner.

BUDGET IMPACT:

The combined cost of the five proposed easements is $1,518,860.  Funding for the purchase of 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). All five properties contain “tourism value” and therefore qualify for the use of tourism funds for the easement acquisitions.

 

During the first eight years of the ACE program, the County acquired easements on 32 properties and protected 6,483 acres.  The County’s net cost of purchase (including closing costs) was $9,034,745 from the County’s budgeted funds of $8,973,243 for this period.  However, an assortment of grants and donations more than covered this difference in value.   If the County acquires easements on the top five properties from FY 2008-09, it will have acquired easements on 37 properties and protected 7,224 acres at a cost of approximately $10,556,605.00.  Though the County’s budgeted funds of $10,587,243 are slightly more than net acquisition costs for this period, grants and donations ($1,376,198) and adjustments of easement value from the income grid ($1,671,511) have given the County  an additional $3,047,709 of leverage, thereby enabling the ACE program to acquire far more property than it could have otherwise.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff recommends that the Board adopt the attached Resolution (Attachment C) accepting’ the offers of the approved FY 2008-09 applicants (McDaniel, E.N. Garnett, M. Hudson, Magerfield, and C. Hudson) to sell conservation easements to the County, for the prices specified and subject to the terms and conditions contained in the deeds of easement, and authorize the County Executive to sign the final deed of easement in a form acceptable to the County Attorney for each property. 

 

ATTACHMENTS

A – Ranking Order of ACE Applicants from Round 9 (FY 2008-09)

B – ACE Budget for Round 9 (FY 2008-09)

C – ACE Resolution Accepting Offers to Sell FY 2008-09 Easements to the County

D – Summary of Nine Rounds of ACE Acquisitions (2000-2009)
Return to consent agenda
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