1. Welcome and Introductions
2. Thomas Blackwell, Essex County Commission of the Revenue: Discussion on impacts of conservation easements on local tax base
3. Dragon Run Day 2009
4. Dragon Run Stewardship Award
5. Public Comment
6. Other Business
Dragon Run Steering Committee members in attendance: Prue Davis (Chair), Frank Herrin (Vice Chair), John England, RD Johnson, Fred Hutson, Robert Gibson, Willy Reay, Terry DuRose and Dorothy Miller.
Others in attendance: Sara Stamp and Thomas Blackwell (Essex County Commissioner of the Revenue)
Welcome and Introductions
Prue Davis called the meeting to order and welcomed the group.
Thomas Blackwell, Essex County Commissioner of the Revenue: Discussion on impacts of conservation easements on local tax base
Sara Stamp provided some background information on the regional drive to increase the amount of land protected by conservation easements in the Dragon Run Watershed. She reminded the Steering Committee that there are a number of entities, including the Steering Committee, promoting conservation easements as a tool for private landowners to protect their lands in perpetuity. She also noted that a dialog to discuss implications of the increased abundance of easements due as concerns on impacts to local tax base seemed to be mounting.
Chairwoman Davis introduced Thomas Blackwell, Essex County Commissioner of the Revenue. Mr. Blackwell provided some information on how Essex County assessed properties with a conservation easement on them compared to a similar property without an easement. He noted that there was no guidance as to how to appropriately discount the assessed value for eased lands and that he had to make a best judgment that he applied consistently to all holdings with conservation easements, unless there was a special circumstance. He noted that there was currently no communication or collaboration between localities, so there are likely inconsistencies between how each locality in the watershed assessing properties with conservation easements.
Ms. Stamp noted that perhaps the Regional Assessment Committee may perhaps be interested in forming a sub-committee to address the inconsistencies between county assessments of easements. Mr. Blackwell agreed that this may be a potential venue to have this discussion and that he would inquire at the Committee’s next meeting.
Mr. Blackwell and Ms. Stamp reviewed a sample assessment comparing two properties – one with an easement and one without an easement – to demonstrate the change in the value of the properties. They also reviewed alternatives to show what would happen in different scenarios (partial easements, future development of non-eased land on the property, etc). See attached scenarios.
Dragon Run Day 2009
Sara Stamp reminded the Steering Committee that Dragon Run Day 2009 is on October 10th at Thousand Trails Campground. She requested volunteers from the Steering Committee to participate in the event. She noted that she especially needed volunteers to man the DRSC/SAMP booth with her throughout the day.
Dragon Run Stewardship Award
The Steering Committee discussed the nominations for the Dragon Run Stewardship Award – The Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority and Andy Lacatell from The Nature Conservancy. The Committee discussed the merits and history of both nominees and their impacts in the watershed. The Steering Committee voted to issue the award to Andy Lacatell. The award will be presented at Dragon Run Day.
Willy Reay requested that Sarah McGuire be added to the November meeting agenda to discuss the Dragon Run Watershed Curriculum grant that was received by the Chesapeake Bay
The next meeting is scheduled for