More people are calling Clermont County home. Since 2000, the county has experienced a 10 percent increase in population, growing from an estimated 177,977 to 195,385 residents today.
In a recent land use planning survey, Clermont County citizens indicated a desire to balance future growth and development while protecting specific land uses, such as open space. As growth and development continues, land preservation tools (such as conservation easements) will be essential to protect natural areas and open spaces.
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement made by a landowner to place deed restrictions over property (or a section of property) to preserve land in its current state; it will protect the feature of the landscape (that we are trying to conserve) from incompatible land use.
Many landowners place an easement on their property because of the long-term environmental benefits; natural areas that are lush with vegetation can help improve the water quality of local streams by absorbing rain water and filtering out harmful pollutants.
Landowners can sell or donate a conservation easement to a local land trust or government agency.
Financial compensation is based on the easement value, which is determined by property appraisals done before and after the deed restrictions.
Those who donate an easement may be eligible for state and federal tax deductions; because the deed restrictions lower the property's market value, easements are ideal for landowners looking to reduce the estate tax burden for those who may inherit the property in the future.
Conservation easements are important balancing tools for urbanization. As the region develops, communities can rely on conservation easements as a win-win strategy that maintains the natural, rural character of the landscape, while providing economic incentives to the individual landowner and long-term environmental benefits for the region.
If you are interested in learning more about conservation easements, visit the Clermont Storm Water Management Department Web site at www.ClermontStorm.net.