Editor: Conservation easements help everybody in Loudoun County.
Start with money. Easements do more than preserve the pretty countryside that makes Loudoun unique. By reducing the number of houses that could be built on the protected property, every taxpayer saves money. New houses have an initial cost to the county of about $40,000 on average. This is an amount ratified by the Board of Supervisors earlier this year. Easements also save significant money each year since houses require county services of $1.62 for every $1 they pay in property taxes.
Easements are freely entered into by landowners and the landowner still owns the acreage, so property rights are not threatened. Supervisor Tony Buffington has introduced an initiative to help landowners pay some of the upfront costs that conservation easements require, such as a survey, an appraisal and so on. His legislation has an income ceiling so it’s not “welfare for the rich,” and it also brings in private nonprofit groups for additional help.
This is a rare opportunity to enact something that puts money in your pocket, saves the county money, and preserves properties with scenic and environmental qualities that benefit us all. The bill goes before the Board’s Finance Committee in early October. Please go to loudoun.gov, look under “Government” to find supervisors’ email addresses and ask them to approve this effort.
Robert W. Rood, Jr., Hamilton