When a project is approved as a PUD, the government requires the developer to create a master plan for open space
and to establish a Property Owners Association [POA] and/or a Taxing District to own, operate, and manage the open spaces.
Elected POA or Taxing District Boards pay for the operation and management of
the open space by collecting assessments or taxes from property owners within the development.
Limitations of Current System
The current system does not effectively provide for the long term protection of green space or restoration of environmental
It relies on POA members and elected officials with no biological training and potential conflicts of interest
to enforce compliance with environmental mandates.
- It jeopardizes effective maintenance of conservation
areas by involving them in POA and Taxing District politics created by competition for funding.
The land may be redesignated to a different use in the future if the POA members, Taxing District and the local
It does not encourage or support community-wide open-space planning, because each PUD or Taxing District
is an entirely separate entity and planning project that isolates its conservation lands from the larger systems in which
they should be functioning.
The Strengths of a
Sustaining Community Lands Program
A Sustaining Community Lands Program
addresses these weaknesses and offers new conservation and community-building opportunities. It is also effective in both
single-owner projects and multiple-owner Planning Areas.
While the rules that will govern a
multiple-owner Planning Area or a specific PUD are being developed, Sustaining Community Lands, Inc., helps the Community
identify lands to be dedicated to Community Purposes, helps create a new, independently operated not-for-profit "Conservancy"
or "Trust" made up of people from the broader local community, and helps negotiate agreements giving the Community
Land Conservancy – rather than the POA or Taxing District - an ownership interest in those lands and the responsibility
for managing them.
In lieu of POA assessments and taxes, the Community
Land Conservancy is given a non-political, dedicated funding source, such as a transfer fee, that is linked to the development
which was required to set aside the open space.
The funds are collected through covenants that run with the properties designated for development in the PUD
or Taxing District.
the funding is dedicated and automatic, it is neither reliant on any political entity nor subject to conflicts or competition.
Because a Community Land Conservancy is a not-for-profit, it may increase its funding through grants and traditional
fundraising activities, and it may partner with other entities, such as cities, counties or other non-profits, to increase
the number of available grants.
Community Land Conservancies engage the people who make up the
Community in property restoration and educate them on the value of conserving the lands within their neighborhoods, towns
and/or regions. This gives them a sense of place and inspiration that makes the conservation lands part of their Community
Because Community Land Conservancies are governed by people
from the entire Community, rather than governed solely by property owners in a single development or area, they may be linked
with more than one development and may function outside individual development boundaries.
This creates economies of scale that make it possible to hire professional biologists and land managers to design and carry
out restoration projects on both large and small projects with valuable conservation lands.
- Community Land
Conservancies that are dedicated to conserving prime habitat and important ecological lands can motivate Communities to develop
Open-Space and Conservation Master Plans and programs.
- Community Land Conservancies
can also help implement Community Lands Plans by acquiring additional lands that are outside of PUD boundaries to create linkages
between preserve areas in isolated projects.
- Where there are Transfer of Development
Rights [TDR] Programs, sending-site management may be funded by receiving-site development in perpetuity.
Community Land Conservancies are non-profit agencies enjoying IRS benefits linked to an ownership interest in open space and
conservation lands, they are mandated to keep those lands from being converted to other
uses in the future and have the power to do so.