Approval of FY 09 ACE Appraisals and Easement




Approval of six appraisals from Round 9 ACE properties (FY 09) and purchase of the top five ranked properties



Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Herrick, Cilimberg, Benish, Goodall





August 5, 2009


ACTION:                INFORMATION:   



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On March 11, 2009, the Board approved the Acquisition of Conservation Easement (ACE) Committee’s request to have the top six ranked properties from the Round 9 applicant pool (FY 09) appraised: the McDaniel, E.N. Garnett, Hudson (Michael), Magerfield, Hudson (Charles) and Thurman properties (see Attachment A).  Based on estimated easement values for these properties prior to the official appraisals, the ACE Committee believed that the ACE Program fund balance would be enough to purchase most or all of the easements.  Even if it were not, the Committee believed it would be prudent to obtain appraisals on extra properties in the event that any applications were withdrawn.


The Board of Supervisors’ role in the ACE program is to select the easements to be purchased.  County Code § A.1-111(A) provides in part: "From the list of applications received under section A.1-110(D), the board of supervisors shall designate the initial pool of parcels identified for conservation easements to be purchased. The size of the pool shall be based upon the funds available for easement purchases in the current fiscal year and the purchase price of each conservation easement in the pool established under section A.1-111(B)."  Because it is unlikely that every invited applicant will submit an actual offer to sell, if one or more applicants drop out of the pool, other applicants would be substituted until the eligible applicants or available funding were exhausted.



Goal 2.1 – “Protect and/or preserve the County’s rural character”

Goal 2.2 – “Protect and/or preserve the County’s natural resources”


Objective 2.1: By June 30, 2010, increase the total combined acreage in permanent conservation easements and qualifying public parkland by 30,000 acres (50%) using public and private means. 


Acquisition of these six properties from the FY 09 class would add another 849 acres in conservation easements and significantly further the County’s goals.



All six appraisals were completed in mid-May and submitted to the Appraisal Review Committee (ARC) (Attachment B). After a few minor revisions, the ARC formally approved the revised appraisals on July 14, 2009. 


For FY 09, funding of $1,614,000 was appropriated to the ACE program in addition to the $29,000 of unencumbered funds carried over from FY 08.  In addition, two separate grants have been awarded recently that together would add almost $315,000 to the program’s funding ($49,900 from the state Office of Farmland Preservation and $265,000 from USDA’s Farm and Ranchland Protection Program).  The $49,900 state grant will likely be applied toward an easement purchase from Round 8.  Though both grants have been tentatively approved by the grantors, neither has been allocated yet.  A Cooperative Agreement, currently under staff review, must be approved by the Board of Supervisors and signed by the County Executive before USDA will release its funds.  With this grant, the total funds for acquiring Round 9 easements would be nearly $1,900,000, enough for the six applicants from FY 09 and a significant amount to be carried over to FY 10’s restricted budget (Attachment C).  


Because neither grant has been officially approved or allocated yet, staff recommends approval of the purchase of the first five ranked properties.  The sixth-ranked property is the Thurman property.  In the absence of one or both grants, the FY 09 budget has funding sufficient to acquire these first five properties.  The Thurman property can be authorized for acquisition after the grants are officially approved.  The acquisition of all six appraised properties would result in the following resource protection: 




Funding for the purchase of these conservation easements comes from the CIP-Planning-Conservation budget (line-item 9010-81010-580409) and the CIP-Tourism-Conservation budget (line-item #9010-72030-580416), a budget previously approved by the Board to fund ACE properties with “tourism value”.   The McDaniel, E.N. Garnett, Hudson (Mike), Magerfield, and Hudson (Charles) properties all qualify for the use of tourism funds because they either provide mountaintop protection or lie on the James River.  In addition, it is anticipated that the County will receive a $265,000 grant from the USDA’s Farm and Ranchland Protection Program that can be used for Round 9 acquisitions.




The ACE Committee and staff recommend that the Board: 

1)       Approve the six (6) appraisals by Pape and Company for applications from the year FY 09 applicant pool (see Attachment B);

2)       Approve the purchase of ACE easements on the top five ranked properties for Round 9, (namely: McDaniel, E.N. Garnett, Hudson (Mike), Magerfield, and Hudson (Charles); and

3)       Authorize staff to invite these five applicants to make written offers to sell conservation easements to the County.




A - Ranking Order of ACE Applicants for Round 9 – FY 09

B - Easement Values and Acquisition Costs for Round 9 – FY 09

C - ACE Budget for Round 9 – FY 09

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