US District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania, No. 3:11cv514, March 1, 2012: Finding that conservation easement’s purposes and its prohibition on industrial or commercial uses of any kind are made ambiguous by uses allowed by the easement, and therefore the easement does not necessarily prohibit natural gas drilling, denies motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff Stockport Mountain Corporation LLC (Stockport) [...]

IRS: Easement Audit Techniques Guide

The Internal Revenue Service publishes a “Conservation Easement Audit Techniques Guide” online at,,id=249135,00.html#_Toc223. The publication was last revised September 30, 2011, and last reviewed by the IRS November 22, 2011. The Guide begins with a table of contents in hypertext linked to the chapters of the Guide, reproduced below. In addition to summaries of the many requirements of [...]

NPS Proposes Historic Rehab Certification Rules Change

October 15, 2010: A Proposed Rule by the National Park Service would amend its procedures for obtaining historic preservation certifications for rehabilitation tax credits. The comment period ends 12/14/2010.

From the Federal Register notice: “The proposed rule accomplishes four objectives. First, it removes outdated references to the Internal Revenue Code. Second, the proposed rule deletes references to [...]

Lord V. Commissioner of Internal Revenue

US Tax Court, T.C. Memo. 2010-196, Sept. 8, 2010: An appraisal submitted in support of a claimed deduction for contribution of a conservation easement was not a qualified appraisal because it didn’t include the easement contribution date, the date the appraisal was performed, or the appraised fair market value of the easement contribution on the contribution [...]

Final Revised ADA Regulations Signed

On July 23, 2010, US Attorney General Eric Holder signed final regulations revising the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations (28 C.F.R. Parts 35 and 36) which affect alterations to “places of recreation,” museums and all other places of public accommodation. In general, these final rules take effect 6 months after they are published in the [...]

Backcountry Against Dumps v Abbott

United States District Court, E.D. California. CIV. S-10-394 FCD/KJN, June 8, 2010: The court granted the power company’s motion for transfer of venue of this transmission line case to the Southern District of California from the Eastern District because “there is little, if any, nexus between the claims alleged and the Eastern District” and “very substantial [...]

Federal Chesapeake Bay Strategies Issued

Six federal agencies led by the EPA issued the final strategy document, Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed [EPA‐903‐R‐10‐003] on May 12, 2010, following up an executive order mandating a federal strategy to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Among the outcomes sought by the strategy is “Protect an additional 2 million acres of [...]

Rocky Mountain Christian Church v Boulder County

United States Court Of Appeals Tenth Circuit, No. 09-1188, May 17, 2010
The court upheld a jury verdict that denial of the church’s special use application to build an additional 130,200 SF in an area designated as agricultural lands of importance in Agricultural Districts violated the “equal terms” and “unreasonable limitations” provisions of the Religious Land Use [...]

Amicus Briefs for Kaufman Rehearing

The amicus briefs of National Trust for Historic Preservation and Trust for Architectural Easements supporting a rehearing in Kaufman v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue are available. The key issue is whether a mortgage holder’s priority claim on casualty insurance and condemnation proceeds causes a “conservation restriction” to lose its status as perpetual (under IRS regs) notwithstanding [...]

Committee for The Preservation of The Seattle Federal Reserve Bank Building v Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

United States District Court, W.D. Washington
No. C08-1700RSL, March 19, 2010

The court set aside an agreement by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (FRB) to sell its Seattle branch building, eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The opinion implies that this decision is the first time a court ever set aside agency [...]

Friedman v Commissioner of Internal Revenue

United States Tax Court, T.C. Memo. 2010-45, March 11, 2010

Although the petitioner-taxpayer lost in this case, the Tax Court agreed to apply the “substantial compliance doctrine” to the question of whether the petitioner complied with the requirements of sec. 1.170A-13, Income Tax Regs. regarding a non-cash charitable contribution. The court wrote, “Under the substantial compliance doctrine, [...]

IRS Notice: No Change in 170(h) Qualified Conservation Contribution Deduction Record-Keeping Requirements

FR Doc 2010-4473, Federal Register: March 4, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 42)

The IRS issued a routine notice and request for comments: “Internal Revenue Code section 170(h) describes situations in which a taxpayer is entitled to a deduction for a charitable contribution for conservation purposes of a partial interest in real property. This regulation requires a taxpayer [...]

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Final Rule affects easements

Department Of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Healthy Forests Reserve Program
7 CFR Part 625, RIN 0578-AA52 Final rule
February 10, 2010

“This final rule amends Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) regulations for the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP)…. The final rule for the HFRP amends the current regulation to include congressionally required statutory changes to the program [...]

Weiss v. Kempthorne

Julie Weiss, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior, et al., Defendants.
No. 1:08-CV-1031.
United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division.
January 15, 2010.

The Plaintiffs objected to the development of a “Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course”, part of which extends into a 74-acre public park that sits adjacent to Lake Michigan. In 1977, [...]