Amendments to conservation easements are always possible. However, changes to easements are only permitted if they do not diminish the easement’s conservation value protections. The most common type of amendment involves a landowner of an easement property choosing to further reduce the property’s development potential by relinquishing a retained dwelling unit right. For example, if an easement written in the past permitted three future dwellings/parcels on a 300-acre farm, an amendment could be written to limit the farm to one homestead residence. Limiting this future development potential would improve the property’s open-space protections, and would also generate additional tax benefits for the landowner, which makes it an attractive option. Amendments can also be written to clarify ambiguous or outdated language. Sometimes landowners choose to amend their easement specifically to strengthen conservation-specific restrictions, such as creation of additional water resource protections, or language targeted at protecting habitat for a particular species that may have recently taken residence on the property (i.e. bald eagle nesting areas).
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