What is “Purchase of Development Rights?”
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement that allows a landowner to limit the type or amount of development on their property while retaining private ownership of the land. It is a legal document restricting future uses of the land. The easement is signed by the landowner, who is the easement donor, and the Conservancy, who is the party receiving the agreement. The Conservancy accepts the easement with the understanding that it must enforce the terms of the easement in perpetuity. After the easement is signed, it is recorded with the County Register of Deeds and applies to all future owners of the land.
Another way to visualize a conservation easement is to think of owning land as holding a bundle of rights. Each one of these rights represents the landowner’s ability to do something with their property. The right to build a house, to extract minerals, to lease the property, pass it on to heirs, and allow hunting are all rights that the landowner has. A landowner may give up certain rights associated with their property through a document called a conservation easement.