Open Space Preservation

Conservation Easements
A conservation easement is a legally binding agreement that permanently restricts the use of land for present and future owners. While most frequently used to preserve a property's natural features, conservation easements can also be used to protect farmland, scenic views, historic and archaeologic sites, or recreational lands. View our open space preservation photos.

Purpose of Easements
Typically, a conservation easement reduces the number of residential lots that might be allowed by zoning ordinances. Easements not only reduce the amount of development that is possible, but they also limit or even prohibit the removal and destruction of woodlands, wetlands, and wildlife habitat areas. Easements might prohibit intensive agricultural uses, such as a feed lot or factory farm. In some cases easements might require the continuation of agriculture uses. Conservation easements have considerable variety, depending on the goals of the landowner and the conservation organization (land trusts, conservancies, and government agencies) that will ensure that the restrictions are honored.

Conservation Planning
Conservation easements require careful planning and consideration, both by the landowner and by the conservation organization. The process usually begins with an informal conversation between a conservation organization and the landowner regarding their goals and objectives for the land and their financial goals and expectations. The conservation organization will usually follow up with a walking tour of the land, so they can be assured that it will meet their conservation goals. The entire process of placing a conservation easement on a property can take from a few months to a couple of years, depending on the complexity of the conveyance. The conservation organization will guide the landowner through the process and can provide the landowner with description of the steps involved in an easement conveyance.

In as much as the conservation easement is a perpetual, and the easement document is recorded in public deed records. The easement will show up on a title report, and it will be binding upon all future owners. Should the original conservation organization cease to exist, the easement will be transferred to another conservation organization by an appropriate court.

Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service recognizes that a conservation easement donated to conservation organization can qualify for a tax deduction as charitable donation. The conservation organization will work with the landowner to make sure the easement meets all of the IRS requirements for a tax deduction. Among other requirements, an easement must accomplish one of the following to qualify for a tax deduction:
  • Preserve land areas for outdoor recreation or for the education of the general public;
  • Protect a significant, relatively natural habitat of fish, wildlife, or plants, or similar ecosystem;
  • Preserve open space pursuant to a clearly delineated governmental conservation policy or for the scenic enjoyment of the general public, and provided the open space will offer a significant public benefit;
  • Preserve a historically important land area or certified structure.
This information is intended as educational only and we strongly suggest professional advice be sought before making legal or financial commitments involving land ownership and/or management

Kennett Protected Lands Map 2014
Properties in green on the Protected Lands Map are considered protected. They include parks, township owned lands, lands under conservation easement, lands owned by homeowners associations, and lands owned by Delaware Nature Society and The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County. The map does not include the 35-acre Case property which was placed under a conservation easement in 2014.