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Assessor's Manual, Volume 4, ExemptionAdministration

Exemption Administration Manual - Part 2
Agricultural and Forest

Section 4.08 - RPTL Sections 491 and 491-a

Conservation Easement Agreement in Certain Towns

Exemption Code(s): 15-29 year commitment   4747_
        30-49 year commitment   4748_
        50-75 year commitment   4749_
        Perpetual commitment   4750_

Year Originally Enacted: RPTL §491  2009            RPTL §491-a 2014

Related Statutes: GML §247

SUMMARY: If allowed by local option, property located in one of certain towns where interests or rights have been acquired for the purpose of the preservation of an open space or an open area as authorized under Section 247 of the General Municipal Law may be partially exempt from taxation and special ad valorem levies, but liable for special assessments. The amount of the exemption is based on the length of commitment of the property subject to the conservation easement agreement between the property owner or owners and the town.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

    1. Ownership Requirements: None.
       
    2. Property Location Requirements: The property must be located in a county of not less than 950,000 and not more than 951,000, and also within a town having a population of: a) not less than 11,300 and not more than 11,400 or b) not less than 27,600 and not more than 27,700. Based on the latest federal census, i.e., 2000, only the Towns of Elma and Orchard Park, in Erie County, currently satisfy these criteria.

Or the property must be located in a county of not less than 300,000 and not more than 307,000 and also withion a town having a population of not less than 32,000 and not more than 35,000. Based on the latest federal census, i.e. 2010, only the Town of Bethlehem in Albany satisfies this criteria.

Or the property must be located in a county of not less than 900,000 and not more than 920,000 and also within a town having a population of not less than 7,500 and not more than 7,700. Based on the latest federal census, i.e. 2010, only the Town of Eden in Erie County satisfies this criteria.

  1. Property Use Requirements: Property must be subject to a conservation easement agreement between the owner or owners and the town government, under which the owner or owners grant interests or rights in real property to the town government for the preservation of open space or open areas. "Open space" or "open areas" means any space or area characterized by material scenic beauty or whose existing openness, natural condition or present state of use, if retained, would enhance the present or potential value of abutting or surrounding urban development or would maintain or enhance the conservation of natural or scenic development. For the purposes of this definition, "natural resources" includes, but is not limited to agricultural lands defined as open lands actually used in bona fide agricultural production.

    If there is a violation of the terms and conditions of the conservation easement agreement or if such conservation easement agreement is canceled by the town board upon petition, then the owner or owners of such property must pay to the town government all taxes abated under the conservation easement agreement, including, if applicable those taxes imposed by the county, school districts and all special improvement districts and other taxing districts to which the property is subject. Repayment of the aforementioned taxes is equal to five times the taxes saved in the prior year in which the land benefited from a conservation easement exemption, plus interest of six percent per year compounded annually for each year in which an exemption was granted, not to exceed five years.

  2. Certification by State or Local Government: A property receiving this exemption must first be subject to a conservation easement agreement between the owner or owners and the town board.
     
  3. Required Construction Start Date or Other Time Requirement: None.
     
  4. LOCAL OPTION: Yes -- Each eligible town may choose whether or not to allow the exemption. The option to exempt must be exercised through a local law (after a public hearing). Upon the town's adoption of such a local law, the county in which the town is located may enact a local law allowing the exemption. Likewise, the school district or districts in which the eligible property is located may each pass a resolution allowing the exemption.
     
  5. LIMITATION ON EXEMPTION:
         General
    Municipal
    Taxes
    School
    District
    Taxes
    Special
    Ad Valorem
    Levies
    Special
    Assessments
    1. Amount Yes* Yes* Yes* No
    Exemption
    Allowed
    2. Duration Length of
    Commitment*
    Length of
    Commitment*
    Length of
    Commitment*
    No
    Exemption
    Allowed
    3. Taxing Jurisdiction a. County or County
    Special Districts
    Ex** NA Ex** Tax
    b. City NA NA NA NA
    c. Town or Town
    Special District
    Ex** NA Ex** Tax
    d. Village NA NA NA NA
    e. School District NA Ex** NA NA
         Ex-Exempt      Tax-Taxable      NA-Not Applicable

    *See Calculation of Exemption below.

    **If allowed by local option (county and school district options are conditional on town adoption of exemption).

  6. PAYMENTS IN LIEU OF TAXES: None.
     
  7. CALCULATION OF EXEMPTION:
    1. General Municipal and School District Taxes: The exemption amount is based upon the length of commitment made by the owner or owners of the property owner for the conservation easement agreement:
         
      Commitment Percentage of Exemption
      15-29 years 50
      30-49 years 75
      50-75 years 85
      Perpetual 90

      Note: Whenever a conservation easement encumbers only a portion of a parcel, the assessor should enter that portion of the parcel encumbered by such easement as a separate parcel on all subsequent assessment rolls.

    2. Special Ad Valorem Levies and Special Assessments: No exemption allowed.
       
  8. CODING OF EXEMPTION ON ASSESSMENT ROLL:
    Code Description of Alternative Codes Possible
    4747_ 15-29 year commitment
    4748_ 30-49 year commitment
    4749_ 50-75 year commitment
    4750_ Perpetual commitment

    Assessment Roll Section(s): Taxable (RPS Section 1).

  9. FILING REQUIREMENTS (Owner or Occupant of Property):
    §491 Town of Elma  
    Form RP-491[Elma] (9/09) - Application for Conservation Easement Agreement
    Exemption; Certain Towns 
    §491 Town of Orchard Park  
    Form RP-491[Orchard Park] (9/09) -

    Application for Conservation Easement Agreement
    Exemption; Certain Towns

    §491-a Town of Bethlehem
    Form RP-491[Bethlehem] (11/14) -

    Application for Conservation Easement Agreement
    Exemption; Certain Towns

    §491-a Town of Eden
    Form RP-491-a [Eden] (11/14) -

    Application for Conservation Easement Agreement
    Exemption; Certain Towns

    For each of these exemptions, application is required in the first year only. Application form must be accompanied by a copy of the conservation easement agreement as adopted by the town board.

  10. REPORTING REQUIREMENTS (Assessor): None.
     
  11. SIMILAR EXEMPTIONS: None.

    Exemption Application Forms and Instructions: Available at property tax forms website.


                   

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