Summit County Open Space AND PROTECTED AGRICULTURE
Summit County acquires property and secures conservation easements for the purposes of open space, agriculture preservation, and resource protection. The county uses several different acquisition methods and will pursue, depending on the individual circumstance, both land and/or conservation easements in perpetuity.
Currently there are three independent Summit County open space advisory committees serving to provide input to the County Manager and the County Council:
- Eastern Summit County Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board (ESAP), established for the purpose of "creation, identification and preservation of agricultural and open space lands within Eastern Summit County"
- Basin Open Space Advisory Committee (BOSAC), for the purpose of “creation, preservation, and identification of open space within the Snyderville Basin in order to ensure high conservation values and promote the resort and scenic character of the area"
- Summit County Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC), most recently created for the purpose of "the identification, preservation and acquisition of open space, agricultural protection areas, and conservation easements" countywide.
The qualifying criteria have been defined by each of the Open Space Advisory Committees (ESAP, BOSAC & OSAC) and has been approved by the Summit County Council. Property suitability for open space, agriculture protection or conservation easement is informed by direction from County Staff and the applicable Open Space Advisory Committees. Final decisions are made by the Summit County Commissioners in their sole discretion. In general, Summit County acquires properties that meet one or more of the following criteria;
- Preserving rural areas that provide community buffers including significant agricultural land
- Land for passive recreation including land for public access and potential trail connections
- Land with other significant resources, including scenic view corridors, riparian corridors, wetlands, and wildlife habitat
- Properties that reduce development density, or provide growth limitation/buffers
Specific Open Space Advisory Committee detailed qualifying criteria:
- Snyderville Basin Open Space Advisory Board (BOSAC)
- Eastern Summit County Agricultural Preservation and Open Lands Advisory Committee (ESAP)
- Summit County Open Space Advisory Board (OSAC)
- Purchase: The landowner (seller) requests the full market value for the property transaction or conservation easement designation from the purchaser (buyer).
- Full Donation: A full donation is when the landowner donates ownership of the land in totality without compensation from the recipient. This transaction is also called a Fee Simple Donation and can provide tax benefits to the donor.
- Partial Donation: A partial donation is a combination of Fee Title and Fee Simple. It is used when a landowner wants to retain a portion of the property rights or would like to receive a cash payment for a portion of the property value. The remaining rights and/or value of the property are donated to the recipient.
Summit County has limited funds to invest in new open space acquisitions and such will actively seek properties and patterners that have additional funding sources/donations to leverage every dollar.
- 2021 General Obligation Bond (GO Bond): Approved by all Summit County voters for the preservation of open space and agricultural lands countywide. The Summit County Open Space Advisory Council (OSAC) will review and provide recommendations to County Commissioners. Both land acquisition and conservation easements are considered.
- 2004-2015 Snyderville Basin GO Bond: Approved by voters within the Snyderville Basin for public recreational open space properties. Properties must reside within the Snyderville Basin Boundary to be considered for this funding. The Basin Open Space Advisory Committee (BOSAC) will review and make recommendations to County Commissioners. Generally, Basin Recreation administers these lands, while conservation easements are held by a qualifying land trust or government agency.
- Fees In Lieu: Properties residing in the Eastern Summit County Planning District may qualify for these funds for the preservation of working of agriculture lands and open space. This funding structure is based on fees collected from lot sales at the Promontory Development. The Eastern Summit County Agricultural Preservation/Open Space Committee (ESAP) will review and make recommendations to County Commissioners. Generally, conservation easements are obtained with this funding and are held by a qualifying land trust or government agency.
- Other funding sources: Private donations, federal and state grants.
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