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Conservation Easements

The Mount Washington Preservation Trust has preserved over 25 acres of green space through its conservation easement program.  Through this program, land owners agree to limit future development on their land. The conservation easement protects open-space in our neighborhood, while often providing tax benefits to the donor. The Trust is, in certain instances, able to accept conservation easements for land located outside of the Mount Washington neighborhood.

  1. What is a conservation easement?
    A conservation easement is an agreement to limit further development on a parcel of land. For example, a conservation easement might preclude building additional dwelling units, but could allow improvements to existing dwellings and garages, and accessory uses and structures.
  2. Why donate an easement?
    Donating an easement protects and preserves the open-space quality of the land, protecting it from development now or in the future, and at the same time provides tax benefits to the donor. Since the Trust is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization, the value of an easement donated to the Trust may be considered a charitable deduction, thereby it could result in possible savings in federal income tax, real property taxes and future estate taxes.
  3. What kind of land can be subjected to conservation easement?
    Any parcel of land on which a house may be built, now or in the future.
  4. If I donate an easement, do I still own the land? May I still live on the land and make improvements to my property?
    Yes, you still own the land, you can live on the land, and the easement can allow for modifications and additions to existing structures or for new accessory structures, e.g., garage, tool shed, swimming pool, tennis courts, etc.
  5. May land under an easement be sold or inherited?
    Yes, the land may be bought, sold and inherited the same as all other land. However, the easement binds all present and future owners to its terms.
  6. If I donate an easement, would I be responsible for the maintenance of my property?
    Yes, an easement donated to the Trust will provide that the owner will keep the responsibility for maintaining the property.  You have all the rights and responsibilities of ownership and can use your land except as specified in the easement.
  7. What is the tax value of an easement?
    To determine an easement’s value, the landowner must arrange for an appraisal of the land. The land will need to be appraised at fair market value, with and without the easement.  The difference is the value of the easement, and this value may be used for tax deduction purposes.
  8. How will future owners of a property know that an easement exists?
    The easement is executed in the form of a deed and is recorded in the City Land Records Office.  A title search will reveal the existence of the easement.  The Trust will also maintain records and see that the easements are enforced.
  9. How can I donate an easement?
    Fill out our contact form, note that you are interested in learning more about donating an easement and a member of the Trust's Board will contact you.
  10. Can an individual donate land directly to the Trust? 
    The Mount Washington Preservation Trust historically has preserved open space using conservation easements.  However, upon agreement with the Trust a landowner can donate a parcel of land directly to the Trust. In addition, the Trust may solicit funds to purchase available land.  For more information about this process, please contact us. 

We urge you to visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Land Conservation page for a more comprehensive view of the easment process, including tax benefit information.