Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny: Land Preserves, Not to be Confused with Peach Preserves

Is this where I put in key words such as sex, lesbians, vampires, Christopher Lloyd and others things to which this blog do not pertain, but by putting them here, I may get hits from all the Christoper Lloyd lesbian vampire fans (and you know who you are)? This is the primarily humorous and occasionally rambling writings of Leon Tchaikovsky, humor writer. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Land Preserves, Not to be Confused with Peach Preserves

When we preserve land permanently from developing, we take steps now that will benefit future generations who will have the ability to enjoy open space, forests, parks, and wildlife. That the system preserving land is being abused here in Pennsylvania tells us we have to act to guarantee that those administering land preservation efforts are acting properly.

The Washington Post reported on its front page that a Pennsylvania developer received tax credits for agreeing to preserve the portion of a development that wasn't fit for development. This is not what the land preservation program intended. Local officials should never have allowed this abuse to occur. We see that developers are taking advantage of local authorities across the nation. In Florida, a developer received a tax credit that was greater than the purchase price by agreeing not to develop the land, which is a golf course. This is an extreme example of a total loss of common sense: a tax credit should never be more than a fair market purchase price, and a golf course should not be the type of open space intended for preservation.

It may be hard to legislate common sense. Yet, the fact that developers are taking advantages of laws designed to restrict their developing of prime agricultural land and other critical land important for parks, recreation, and our ecology indicates we need to improve this law. Easement purchases have preserved over 88,000 acres in Pennsylvania. The Land Trust Alliance confirms that most of these easements serve their proper use. We have received notice, though, that some developers have found ways to misuse a system that otherwise works. I call upon the state government to provide more oversight in determining that easements are proper and above board.

When easements are offered for tax breaks or for purchase, we need to guarantee that they are for land we wish preserved. We need to better evaluate the proper value of easements. The General Accounting Office claims landowners have been, on average, receiving more than twice what they should. Country and regional planning agencies, with assistance from state planners, should make prior determinations which land within their country or region should be preserved and thus eligible for easement credits or development purchases. The state should provide needed technical assistance, oversight, and intervene when the system is abused. We need to preserve our future, yet we need to do so in an efficient, common sense fashion.


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