Tiverton is a beautiful town, but it is growing fast, and developers are rapidly buying up the available open land.
Land planning experts estimate that it will be "built out" within a decade. That means there will be a house on every bit of land that is zoned for residential construction.
The pleasant rural views and woodlands we now enjoy and value will disappear, replaced by rows of modern suburban dwellings. Each new development further reduces the rural character of the town, thus diminishing the value of the property that remains. In addition, as the population grows, so does the demand for town services. As a result, property taxes must increase to pay for the additional police and fire protection, roads, refuse collection and schools. Members of the Land Trust believe that every acre of open land that can be kept open will pay for itself in dollars and cents, and in the pleasant aspects of rural living we have come to love.
How does the TLT find out that a parcel of land is available?
Mostly by word of mouth and monitoring real estate news and advertising. Sometimes the TLT hears that an owner is thinking of selling his or her land, sometimes family members approach the trust so that their property will remain undeveloped.
What does the TLT do when it discovers that a parcel of land is available?
The board carries out some preliminary assessments, including a look at the deed, at the land, and obtains a professional appraisal to determine it value.
What kind of land is the TLT interested in?
The land between East Road and Bulgarmarsh is of particular interest because it is the last remaining oak-holly forest in the East Bay. But any land that adjoins already protected land would be of interest. Also, the TLT will consider any unoccupied parcel that is 10 acres or larger.
How does the TLT acquire – or preserve - land?
The TLT uses several methods. Land might be donated, or there could be a ‘straight’ deal with cash, a partial contribution, or a negotiated conservation easement. If the TLT buys the land, it will be at fair market value. If the property owner is interested in a conservation easement, the TLT will work with the owner to decide on specific options for a piece of land. The easement, however, prohibits further building on the property even if it is later sold. Tax advantages to the owner include an immediate tax deduction and removal of the value of the easement from the owner’s estate, both of which allow the owner and the owner’s heirs a substantial financial benefit. The TLT holds the easement and guarantees that the agreement is adhered to. Otherwise, the owner (and later owners) are free to use the land as they wish so long as it remains undeveloped.
Where does the money come from?
From state and local bond issues, state and federal government agencies, foundations and conservation organizations, and private individual contributions.
How does the TLT obtain grants?
The TLT Board of Directors informally assesses the interest of its ‘partners’ – other organizations that share the TLT’s mission and provide funds for land preservation. The organizations that helped with the Pardon Gray acquisition are examples of interested partners. Volunteers also initiate grants after researching possible donors, writing and submitting proposals. In the case of Pardon Gray, the process for the initial wave of funding took up to a year. When formally applying for funding, the proposals include a survey of the land parcel, an appraisal, and information about why the parcel is important to preserve – including any threat to endangered species. Throughout this process, the TLT is advised by legal counsel.