The Nature Conservancy, Inc. v. Sims

US Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit, Nos. 09-5634/6070, May 21, 2012: Filling a sinkhole violated “unambiguous” conservation easement despite reserved rights; upholds attorneys’ fee award to easement holder. A 2-1 split decision.

The Nature Conservancy (“Conservancy”) and the Sims entered into a conservation easement on land the Conservancy sold Sims. The Conservancy subsequently asserted that the Sims [...]

New Albany Historic Preservation Commission v Bradford Realty

Ind. Court Of Appeals, No. 22A01-1108-PL-365, March 22, 2012: Owner in historic district not entitled to actual notice of potential designation of district; replacement of original wood siding with vinyl siding is “conspicuous change” requiring Certificate of Appropriateness; designation was not inverse condemnation.

The New Albany Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and the City of New Albany (collectively, [...]

STOCKPORT MOUNTAIN CORPORATION LLC v. NORCROSS WILDLIFE FOUNDATION

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) [...]

Long Green Valley Ass’n v Bellevale Farms, Inc.

The Court’s opinion in this case was revised on February 14, 2012. A revised Digest post discussing the decision is [...]

Killorin v Zoning Board of Appeals of Andover

Mass. Appeals Court, No. 10-P-1665, October 14, 2011: Holds the enforceability beyond 30 years of land use restrictions set by a government agency, such as incident to the grant of a zoning special permit, is not limited by state statute that limits enforceability of restrictions on their face unlimited as to time.

The Massachusetts statute, M. G.L. [...]

Westchester Land Trust v Town of Lewisboro and Wolf Conservation Center

NY Supreme Court, Westchester County, Index no. 23534/10, July 13, 2011: Summary judgment order by trial court that conservation easement from Town to land trust prohibits the creation of fenced enclosures or “habitat” for the keeping of wolves.

The conservation easement was granted by the Town as a condition to receiving a grant from Westchester Land Trust [...]

Northampton Township v Parsons

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, 2057 C.D. 2010 July 12, 2011: Restriction to “recreational use” in Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (Declaration) does not allow structure or use for basketball court.  Unreported opinion.

Land acquired by a Township in part with county funds was subject to the Declaration stating the land would be used only “for wildlife [...]

Historic Green Springs, Inc. v Louisa County Water Authority

U.S. District Court, W.D. Virginia, Charlottesville Division, No. 3:09-CV-00079, June 30, 2011: Memorandum opinion finds the land trust holder of a conservation easement has standing to sue under the federal Clean Water Act because the alleged injury to the property rights of the land trust “provide an irrefutable basis for standing,” and at the pleading stage [...]

David v. Martins Point Property Owners Association

Court of Appeals of South Carolina, Unpublished No. 2011-UP-086, March 1, 2011: Enforces a private negative deed covenant imposed for conservation purposes and enjoins construction of a dock at a community lot in a subdivision. (Opinion has no precedential value under SC rules.)

A small limited partnership (“LP”) developed Martins Point with the express goal “to preserve [...]

Stitzel v State of Maryland

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, No. 1017, October 5, 2010: Sets aside the conveyance of a portion of land encumbered an agricultural preservation easement that was deeded without the prior approval of the easement holder; affirms that conveyance requires such prior approval.

In 1999, owner Stitzel entered into an Agricultural Land Preservation District Agreement with the [...]

Bjork v Draper II

Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District, No. 2-09-1345, September 22, 2010: This appeal of the trial court’s balancing of equities when setting remedies for violation of a conservation easement was denied because the Appellate Court found the a balancing was appropriate and the trial court had not abused its discretion.

The easement violation and remedy were [...]

Apasra Properties, LLC and O'Reilly Properties, LLC v. City Of New Orleans And Vieux Carre Commission

Appellants sought to enjoin the administrative proceedings brought against them by the City of New Orleans and the Vieux Carre Commission (“VCC”) for alleged violations of City historic district ordinances protecting the Vieux Carre District, contending that the City’s ordinances creating the body that adjudicates the alleged violations are unconstitutional and the enforcement of city code [...]