COMMUNITY INVOLVED IN SUSTAINING AGRICULTURE vs. BOARD OF ASSESSORS OF DEERFIELD

Mass.  Appeals Court, 13-P-1050, November 10, 2014: Agricultural buy-local organization exempt from real estate tax.

On appeal from the state’s Appellate Tax Board, the court held that Community Involved In Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) is entitled to exemption from local property tax on land it owns and occupies for its programs. At issue was whether the dominant purpose [...]

APPEAL OF: GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STEWARDSHIP FOUNDATION

IN THE MATTER OF THE APPEAL OF: GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STEWARDSHIP FOUNDATION, INC.

North Carolina Court of Appeals, No. COA13-1447, August 19, 2014: property not wholly and exclusively used for educational or scientific purposes subject to property taxes

The court accepted findings of substantial retail and commercial activity on the property, including profit from retail sales in excess of [...]

Francis Small Heritage Trust Inc. v. Town of Limington

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, No. YOR-13-511, August 7, 2014: land fully devoted to conservation and free public access is tax exempt.

The Trust owns eleven contiguous parcels of land on and near Sawyer Mountain in Limington. Eight of the parcels are open space properties which are protected by conservation easements enforceable by third parties, including easements [...]

Historic District Commission v. Sciame

Appellate Court of Connecticut, Ac 35713, August 12, 2014: Attorney’s fees awarded to historic commission.

Sciame was ordered by the local Historic District Commission (Commission) to remove certain renovations on a property in a historic district. When he failed to comply, the commission sued. After a trial on the issues found for the commission, and trial and [...]

Avery v. Medina

Conn. Appellate Court, AC 36326, July 8, 2014: Stone wall is “permanent structure”

At issue was whether a stone wall erected by Medina, the defendant, at a location where a restrictive covenant between private parties prohibited construction of any “permanent structure,” was a permanent structure in violation of the covenant. A lower court agreed with Medina that [...]

In Re Flood Hazard Area Verification

NJ Super. Ct Appellate Division, Nos. A-5541-11T1, A-6364-11T1, June 20, 2014: Hearing required to amend conservation easement.

As of this writing the opinion is not approved for publication.

In 2001 the Italian American Sportsmen’s Club, Inc. (“IASC”) and developer Crestwood obtained approvals from the New Jersey DEP, including a wetlands transition area waiver (“the 2001 TAW”), to subdivide [...]

NEFF v. Board of Assessors of Hawley

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, No. 11432, May 15, 2014: Nonprofit’s forest conservation land entitled to property tax exemption.

New England Forestry Foundation, Inc. (NEFF) is a nonprofit corporation, whose purposes include to “create, foster, and support conservation, habitat, water resource, open space preservation, recreational, and other activities” by “promoting, supporting, and practicing forest management policies and techniques [...]

Oehl v. Amana Colonies

Iowa Court of Appeals, Nos. 3-1154/13-0328, March 26, 2014: Certiorari exclusive remedy for project permit approval in historic district.

A permit (COA) is required for certain exterior construction in the historic districts of the unincorporated villages known as Amana Colonies. The permit decision is made by the Amana Colonies Land Use District Board of Trustees (Board). The [...]

Glass v. Van Lokeren

Mich. Court of Appeals,  No. 302385, March 25, 2014: Land trust did not tortuously interfere with owners business relationships.

In this litigation, the Glasses, who were subject to an unsuccessful attempt by the IRS to disallow a federal income tax deduction for a conservation easement the Glasses donated to the Little Traverse Conservancy Trust (LTC) (Glass v [...]

San Antonio Board of Adjustment v. Reilly

Texas Court of Appeals, 4th Dist., No. 04-13-00221-CV, March 19, 2014: No abuse of discretion if board relies on non-expert opinion of neighbors in demolition decision.

Reilly sought a permit from the City historic preservation officer to demolish a house in a historic district in San Antonio. When the permit was denied, Reilly appealed to the Board [...]

Van Liew v. Chelmsford

Mass. Appeals Court, No. 13-P-145, February 28, 2014: No municipal duty to enforce preservation easement; no standing for mandamus declaratory judgment.

Van Liew brought a mandamus action against the Selectmen of Chelmsford, MA, to require them to enforce a preservation easement. (In Massachusetts, Preservation easements and conservation easements are governed by the same statute, M.G.L. chapter 184, [...]

Hanna and Mrowka v. Chicago

Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, No. 06 CH 19422, unpublished, September 26, 2013: Words ‘historic’, ‘significant’, ‘value’ not vague in landmarks ordinance.

The plaintiffs challenged the landmarks ordinance under which the city designated as historic landmarks the neighborhoods in which the plaintiffs own property. They asserted that the ordinance was invalid and unconstitutional because it uses [...]

500, LLC v. Minneapolis

Supreme Court of Minnesota, No. A11-1705, September 25, 2013: Action on certificate of appropriateness to alter historic landmark is “relating to zoning” under Minnesota law.

Under Minnesota law (Minn. Stat. § 15.99, subd. 2(a) (2012)) a city has only 60 days to “approve or deny” an application for a “written request relating to zoning” or the request [...]

Friends of Bethany Place, Inc. v. Topeka

Kansas Supreme Court, No. 100,997, August 23, 2013: Under Kansas Historic Preservation Act governing body decides whether (1) there are no feasible and prudent alternatives to the project and (2) the project program includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the historic property.

“The Topeka City Council granted Grace Episcopal Cathedral and The Episcopal Diocese of [...]

Kelley v. Cambridge Historical Commission

Massachusetts Appeals Court, No. 12-P-1309, Aug. 21, 2013: No standing to enforce perpetual restriction or challenge historical certificate of appropriateness.

Four individuals living in the vicinity of St. James Episcopal parish church (but not abutters), challenged actions by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) and the Cambridge Historical Commission (CHC) in connection with a commercial development on church [...]

IN RE BARNES FOUNDATION

PA Superior Court, 2013 PA Super 145, June 19, 2013: Special knowledge not sufficient interest for private citizen to intervene in charitable trust matter.

[Editorial note: Some commentators have made the argument that conservation easements and historic preservation easements are charitable trusts under the laws of various States. This case is reviewed here because it concerns standing [...]

Schottland V. Brown Harris Stevens Brooklyn, LLC

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Second Department, 2013 NY Slip Op 03982, June 5, 2013: A NY property seller’s covenants against prior acts may require disclosure of a conservation easement.

 In or about 2002, the Netzer defendants granted what the court called “a conservation easement” (it was a historic preservation façade [...]

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Huber

Supreme Court of New Jersey,No. A-116 September Term 2010 065540, April 4, 2013: Inspection under wetlands permit on conservation easement constitutionally permitted.

The Hubers’ residence includes land subject to a wetlands permit under New Jersey’s Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act (FWPA; N.J.S.A. 13:9B-1 to -30) and a deed restriction/conservation easement to their Township. After a neighbor complained about [...]

Covered Bridge Farms II, LLC v. Maryland

Md Court of Special Appeals, No. 1920, September Term, 2011, March 22, 2013: Agricultural Preservation Easement granted on separate adjoining lots in one ownership can’t be subdivided.

A predecessor in ownership of appellant Covered Bridge Farm II, LLC (CBF II) sold an agricultural preservation easement to the State of Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) on three [...]

Wendler v. City of St. Augustine

FL Dist. Court of Appeals, 5th Dist., No. 5D12-2563, March 15, 2013: Compensation for Florida city’s denial of demolition is based on date of denial, not date of ordinance.

Between 1998 and 2006, the Wendlers bought real property located in a National Register of Historic Places District in St. Augustine, Florida. At the time of their purchases, [...]