Land in Trust: Preserving Farmland through Easement and Fee Simple Ownership in Urban, Suburban and Rural Contexts
Abstract: In the face of sprawling development, land trusts and Community Land Trusts (CLTs) have historically proven to be effective models through which to acquire and preserve agricultural landscapes. This research seeks to :identify the most common land acquisition processes used by trusts preserving agricultural land; evaluate the role of a trust's geographic context (whether urban, ... read moresuburban/peri-urban, or rural) in determining the use of easements versus fee-simple ownership; and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of easements and fee-simple ownership. For the purpose of this study, 207 agricultural land trusts and CLTs responded to a survey regarding their acquisition methods. A combination of 10 trusts and experts in the field participated in follow-up interviews. This study determined that easement is the most-used acquisition technique, although it is more common in rural geographies. Fee-simple acquisition through donation proved to be most popular in urban areas. Interviewees agreed that easements are more appropriate in rural geographies with lower land values, whereas community and governmental relationships facilitate fee-simple acquisitions in urban spaces. In order to better support the work of land trusts and CLTs in conserving agricultural land, it is essential to understand the specific nature of the relationships that trusts are using to support their acquisition processes. Then, comprehensive strategies and city-and county-level policies can be created to foster these relationships and better support the work of trusts.
Thesis (M.A.)--Tufts University, 2016.
Submitted to the Dept. of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.
Advisor: Jonathan Witten.
Committee: Penn Loh.
Keywords: Agriculture, and Land use planning.read less