Acquisition of Garnett and Other FY 2007-08 Class ACE Easements



Approval to Purchase FY 2007-08 ACE Easements




Tucker, Foley, Davis, Herrick, Cilimberg, Benish, Goodall







November 5, 2008



ACTION:                INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:   X          INFORMATION:   











On October 8, 2008, the Board approved the Acquisition of Conservation Easement (ACE) Committee’s request to move ahead with the Anderson easement, the top ranked applicant from the FY 2007-08 class (see Attachment “A”).  Since the second-highest ranked applicants (Garnett) were still assessing their situation when the Board met, the Board also accepted the ACE Committee’s recommendation to delay action on the Garnett and other lower-ranked properties until the November 5th Board meeting.  The $735,000 cost to acquire the Anderson easement is only a portion of the total funds appropriated for the FY07-08 applicant pool and the remaining balance ($826,026) is more than enough to purchase the Garnett easement and/or other lower ranked easements.  To avoid delaying a decision on the lower ranked properties in the FY 2007-2008 class, the ACE Committee gave the Garnetts until October 13 to decide whether to remain enrolled.  If the Garnetts’ easement is not purchased, the ACE fund balance would be enough for the County to purchase most of the remaining properties in this class, including the Hudson (Michael), Dutnell, Riddervold, Hudson (Fred) and Thurman properties.


Under Albemarle County Code § A.1-111(A), "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)."  Nothing in the ordinance, however, obligates the Board to purchase a conservation easement on any property that meets the minimum number of qualifying points.  Because not every invited applicant is likely to 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.




Goal Two, 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 would have to be placed under easement each year between 2006 and 2010.  In the first two years (2006 and 2007), 14,064 acres were protected, just short of the 15,000 acres needed for this period to stay on target.  If funding were available for acquisition of all nine (9) eligible properties from the FY 2007-08 class (see Attachment “A”), 1,310 acres could be placed under easement.  The seven (7) appraised properties from the FY 2007-08 class total 1,151 acres.




A total of $1,627,000 was appropriated to the ACE Program for FY 2007-08.  Approximately $66,000 has already been spent on easement appraisals and miscellaneous expenses from the previous year (such as title insurance, advertising, brochures etc.).  After setting aside $735,000 (see Attachment “B”) for the acquisition of the top-priority Anderson easement, a balance of $826,026 will remain in the FY 2007-08 budget to fund other easement purchases.  While some grant money may ultimately supplement County ACE funding, nothing is guaranteed at this point. 


The Garnetts have decided to proceed. Though the full appraised value of the Garnett property was $928,000, adjustments from the income grid will reduce the ACE payment to $705,280, leaving $120,746 to fund any of the other remaining eligible easements.  Because the adjusted easement value for the Hudson (Michael) property is $582,800, ACE can only offer 21% of the easement value.  Uncertain which invited applicant(s) might be willing to offer easements, the ACE Committee, at its October 13, 2008 meeting, made the following recommendation for the Board to consider:


Acquire the Garnett easement at the adjusted value of $705,280 and offer the remaining balance of funds ($120,746) to acquire the Hudson (Michael) easement.  If the offer to Hudson (Michael) is rejected, proceed down the ranking list and extend offers to other, lower ranked applicants until the remaining funding or willing applicants are exhausted. 


Acquisition of the Anderson and Garnett easements together would provide the following resource protection: 


·         protection of 319 acres of farm and forestland

·         elimination of 20 development lots

·         7,578 feet of state road frontage

·         2,462 feet of riparian buffer on the Hardware River and 5,824 feet on the South Fork of the Hardware River will be protected on the Anderson property

·         Natural Heritage resources were found within ¼ mile of both properties

·         Anderson lies in the Southern Albemarle Rural Historic District

·         9,181 feet of common boundary with other protected lands 

·         250 acres of “prime” farm and forestland

·         Anderson has significant tourism value


In addition, the ACE Committee (during its October 13, 2008 meeting) voted to express its concern about long-term funding of the ACE Program and its inability to acquire more eligible and highly ranked properties.  This concern is summarized in a Memo from the ACE Coordinator in Attachment D.




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”. 




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


1)       Authorize staff to formally send an invitation to offer to sell the Garnett easement at the adjusted value of $705,280.


2)       Authorize staff to send invitations to offer to sell to the remaining eligible applicants in priority order (Hudson (Michael), Riddervold, Dutnell, Hudson (Fred) and Thurman), continuing through the applicant pool until available funding is exhausted.




A - Ranking Order of ACE Applicants 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 - ACE Committee’s Memo to Board Regarding Long-term Funding of ACE Program
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