Webster Township Completes Four Preservation Projects

From Webster Township:

Webster Township’s Farmland and Open Space Preservation Board recently submitted its fiscal year 2018 report to the Board of Trustees.  Four conservation easement purchases were completed using funds from the township’s dedicated millage and matched with funds from federal, county and private sources.  The four projects total 236 acres, bringing the amount of land permanently protected through the township program to 1,870 acres.

The four projects are:

  • Robert Mast Trust: Section 29, 108 acres.  Township contribution $137,510 (22%), Washtenaw County Natural Area Preservation Program matching grant $133,920 (22%), federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program matching grant $285,670 (46%), landowner discount $61,900 (10%)
  • Pat & Betty Farrell: Section 4, 60 acres.  Township contribution $47,100 (20%), Washtenaw County Natural Area Preservation Program matching grant $188,400 (80%) (landowners sold on an old appraisal and discounted the sale price by 35% from actual market value at the time of sale)
  • Brian & Pamela Heldt Trust: Section 8, 52 acres.  Township contribution $50,000 (18%), Washtenaw County Natural Area Preservation Program matching grant $100,000 (35%), federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program matching grant $285,670 (45%), landowner discount $5,000 (2%)
  • Brian & Pamela Heldt Trust: Section 8, 16 acres.  Township contribution $15,000 (20%), Washtenaw County Natural Area Preservation Program matching grant $60,000 (80%)

All are privately owned with no public access permitted.

Approximately 31% of the protected acres are in natural features (woods, ponds and wetlands).  Administrative costs for the program are 12% of total expenditures.  That means 88% of millage proceeds have been directly spent on conservation easement purchases.

With all matching fund sources included, Webster Township’s contribution to completed projects is about 16% of total appraised value, meaning funds have been leveraged at a rate of greater than 5:1.  The largest source of matching funds has been the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program which has provided nearly $4.3 million, while the Ann Arbor Greenbelt program has provided over $3 million.  The Washtenaw County Natural Area Preservation Program has become a larger funding partner in recent years, contributing to all four completed FY 2018 projects and a total of $1,237,000. Landowners have discounted the sale price by nearly $2 million.  All together matching funds total over $10.6 million.

The Webster Township Farmland and Open Space Preservation (FOSP) program has been in existence since September, 2005.  The program was initially funded by township voters in August, 2005 through a five-year property tax millage of 0.5 mills for the purchase of development rights (PDR) on farmland and open space within the township.  The millage was renewed for five years in November, 2009 and for ten years in November, 2014, all by large margins.  Through March 31, 2017, the total amount generated from the millages is $2.265 million.

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