Town of Grand Island, NY
Erie County
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Grand Island 5-18-1998 by L.L. No. 4-1998 (Ch. 9A of the 1963 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Conservation Advisory Board — See Ch. 39.
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 125.
Flood damage prevention — See Ch. 155.
Regrading and filling of land — See Ch. 253.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 327.
Zoning — See Ch. 407.
This chapter shall hereinafter be known and cited as the "Conservation Easement Law of the Town of Grand Island."
It is the purpose of this chapter to provide for the acquisition of permanent interests or rights in real property by the Town of Grand Island for the preservation of open space or open areas as defined in § 121-5 of this chapter. Such interests or rights may be acquired by purchase, gift, grant, bequest, devise, lease or otherwise and shall constitute a public purpose for which public funds may be expended or advanced after due notice and public hearing.
The Conservation Easement Law of the Town of Grand Island is authorized and has been enacted by the Town Board of the Town of Grand Island pursuant to § 49-0301 et seq. of the Environmental Conservation Law of the State of New York, § 247 of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York and §§ 277 and 278 of the Town Law of the State of New York.
This chapter shall apply to the entire area of the Town of Grand Island.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
CONSERVATION ADVISORY BOARD
The Town of Grand Island Conservation Advisory Board.
[Amended 1-21-2014 by L.L. No. 5-2014]
CONSERVATION EASEMENT
An easement, covenant, restriction or other interest in real property, which limits or restricts development, management or use of such real property for the purpose of preserving or maintaining the ecological, scenic, open space, historic, architectural or other natural or physical condition of the real property.
[Amended 10-15-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012]
CONSERVATION VALUES
The ecological, scenic, open space, historic, architectural or other natural or physical conditions protected by a conservation easement.
[Amended 10-15-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012]
OPEN SPACE
Any space or area characterized by natural scenic beauty or whose current or potential ecological value, 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 resources.
[Amended 10-15-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012]
PLANNING BOARD
The Town of Grand Island Planning Board.
PROTECTED PROPERTY
Any property subject to a conservation easement granted to the Town of Grand Island pursuant to this chapter.
PARKS AND RECREATION ADVISORY BOARD
The Town of Grand Island Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
SEQR
The State Environmental Quality Review Act, Article 8 of the Environmental Conservation Law of the State of New York, and any other applicable laws, rules or regulations.
[Amended 10-15-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012]
A. 
Upon application by the owner of property.
[Amended 10-15-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012]
(1) 
Proposal to the Town Board. Any owner or owners of open space may submit a proposal to the Town Board for the granting of a conservation easement to the Town. Such proposals shall be submitted in such manner and form as may be prescribed by the Town Board and shall include a real property Tax Map, a concise description of the areas proposed for the conservation easement and the environmental basis for establishing such an easement. If the real property proposed for the conservation easement is subject to a mortgage, the owner applying for the conservation easement shall secure written notification from the mortgagee of the property agreeing to subordinate mortgage to the conservation easement. The Town Board shall notify the Grand Island Central School District of the receipt of any application of any proposal of a conservation easement within 30 days of the receipt.
(2) 
Evaluation by the Conservation Advisory Board. The Town Board shall forward any proposal for a conservation easement, upon receipt, to the Conservation Advisory Board. In accordance with its powers and duties as outlined in the Code of the Town of Grand Island, the Conservation Advisory Board shall review the proposal to determine the benefit to the people of Grand Island and may make recommendations, as appropriate. In conducting its review, the Conservation Advisory Board shall consider the resource inventory and recommendations included in the Town of Grand Island Comprehensive Plan and other factors deemed relevant.
[Amended 1-21-2014 by L.L. No. 5-2014]
B. 
As an element of subdivision/cluster development review.
[Amended 10-15-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012; 1-21-2014 by L.L. No. 5-2014]
(1) 
Subdivision review. If, in undertaking its review of a proposed subdivision, the Planning Board, pursuant to § 277 of the Town Law, finds that a proper case exists for requiring that a park or parks be suitably located for playgrounds or other recreational purposes on the subdivided premises, the party proposing the subdivision may request that the Town accept a conservation easement on a portion of the subdivided premises for the fulfillment of its obligation to provide the recreational space pursuant to § 277 of the Town Law. The Planning Board shall be responsible for negotiating the content and area of the proposed conservation easement with the party proposing the subdivision. The proposed conservation easement shall take into account the Grand Island Comprehensive Plan, relevant plans and studies and neighborhood design principles and shall include documentation of the environmental values to be conveyed by this easement. The Planning Board may request, but may not require, that the protected property be open to the public. The Planning Board shall consider the location of monumentation in connection with subdivision review and the location and description of monumentation shall be included on the site plan. The proposed conservation easement shall be transmitted to the Town Board, along with the recommendations for final action on the subdivision application. The Town Board shall solicit and take into account comments from the Conservation Advisory Board and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
(2) 
Cluster development review. In conjunction with the review process for a cluster development pursuant to § 407-126 of Chapter 407, Zoning, the party proposing the cluster development may request that the Town accept a conservation easement on any open space resulting from the modification of conventional zoning requirements, such as minimum lot area, minimum lot frontage or minimum lot depth. The Planning Board shall be responsible for negotiating the content and area of the proposed conservation easement with the party proposing the cluster development during the cluster development review process. In addition to meeting the requirements of § 278 of the Town Law, the proposed conservation easement shall take into account the Grand Island Comprehensive Plan, relevant plans and studies and neighborhood design principles and shall include documentation of the environmental values to be conveyed by this easement. The Planning Board may request, but not require, that the protected property be open to the public. The proposed conservation easement shall be transmitted to the Town Board, along with the recommendation for final action on the cluster development application. The Planning Board may request that the Town accept a conservation easement for fulfillment of its obligation to provide recreational space pursuant to § 277 of the Town Law. The Town Board shall solicit and take into account comments from the Conservation Advisory Board and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
C. 
Review by the Town Board.
(1) 
SEQR review. The Town Board shall, within 30 days of receipt of a recommendation from the Conservation Advisory Board or the Planning Board regarding a conservation easement, reject the offer for a conservation easement or perform an initial review of the proposed Conservation Easement for purposes of SEQR pursuant to 6 NYCRR 617.6(a). If the Town Board determines that accepting the conservation easement is a Type I or unlisted action pursuant to SEQR, the conservation easement may not be accepted until SEQR has been fully complied with.
[Amended 1-21-2014 by L.L. No. 5-2014]
(2) 
Public hearing. No less than 15 days nor more than 60 days after SEQR review has been completed, the Town Board shall hold a public hearing concerning the proposed conservation easement. At least 10 days' notice of the time and place of any public hearing shall be published in a paper of general circulation in the Town of Grand Island, at the expense of the property owner, and a written notice of the time and place of such hearing shall be given to all property owners within 500 feet of the boundaries of said proposed area, to Erie County and to the Grand Island Central School District. For purposes of this provision, SEQR review is completed after the Town Board issues any of the following pursuant to SEQR: a negative declaration, a conditioned negative declaration or a finding statement issued after a final environmental impact statement has been prepared. Notwithstanding any of the above, this public hearing may be held concurrently with any public hearing pursuant to SEQR.
[Amended 10-15-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012]
(3) 
Determination. The Town Board, after such public hearing, may adopt the proposal or any modification thereof or may reject it in its entirety. In making its determination, the Town Board shall comply fully with SEQR. Additionally, the Town Board shall consider any recommendations of the Conservation Advisory Board, the Planning Board, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the Grand Island Central School District or Erie County regarding the proposed conservation easement.
[Amended 10-15-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012; 1-21-2014 by L.L. No. 5-2014]
D. 
Recording agreement. If a conservation easement is accepted by the Town Board, it shall be executed by the owner or owners in written form and in a form suitable for recording in the Erie County Clerk's office. Such recording shall be at the owner's expense and shall include agreements subordinating, to the conservation easement, any mortgages or other liens which, if not subordinated, could result in the elimination of such conservation easement.
E. 
Documentation of conservation values. As part of its initial assessment of an application pursuant to Subsection A(2) of this section or, after the Planning Board forwards a recommendation regarding a conservation easement to the Town Board pursuant to Subsection B of this section, the Conservation Advisory Board shall prepare a report that either concurs with or adds to the identified conservation values of the area proposed for the conservation easement. This report shall be forwarded to the Town Board within 20 days of any determination by the Town Board pursuant to Subsection C(1) of this section (SEQR review).
[Amended 10-15-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012; 1-21-2014 by L.L. No. 5-2014]
A. 
Reduced assessment. After acquisition of a conservation easement pursuant to this chapter, the valuation placed upon the protected property for the purpose of real estate taxation shall take into account and be influenced by the limitation placed upon the future use of the land by the conservation easement pursuant to and consistent with § 247 of the General Municipal Law.
B. 
Advance notice. The Town Assessor shall notify any party offering a conservation easement to the Town pursuant to § 121-6A or B of the valuation that will be placed upon the protected property, for the purpose of real estate taxation, within 30 days of receiving a written request for such notification. However, the thirty-day period shall not begin to run until either the Conservation Advisory Board or the Planning Board has made a recommendation to the Town Board with respect to the conservation easement.
[Amended 1-21-2014 by L.L. No. 5-2014]
C. 
Return to full valuation. Upon cancellation of a conservation easement pursuant to § 121-10 of this chapter, the valuation placed upon the protected property for the purpose of real estate taxation shall be revised to reflect the removal of any limitations that had been imposed upon the future use of the protected property by the conservation easement pursuant to and consistent with the Real Property Tax Law of the State of New York.
[Amended 10-15-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012; 1-21-2014 by L.L. No. 5-2014]
Protected property shall be monitored by the Zoning Inspector of the Town of Grand Island to ensure that the use of the protected property is consistent with the terms of the conservation easement. Assistance in the form of technical support from the Conservation Advisory Board may be provided during such inspections. The Zoning Inspector shall report substantial violations of the terms and conditions of any conservation easement to the Town Board.
Every conservation easement accepted by the Town shall contain the following violation provisions:
A. 
Notice. If there is a substantial violation of the terms and conditions of any conservation easement or a substantial violation is threatened, the Town Board shall give written notice to the owner of the protected property of such violation and demand corrective action sufficient to cure the violation and, where the violation involves injury to the protected property, to restore the protected property so injured.
B. 
Failure of owner to correct violation. If the owner of protected property fails to cure the violation within 30 days after receipt of notice thereof from the Town Board, or within such other reasonable period as the Town Board may specifically permit, the Town Board may bring an action at law or in equity in a court of competent jurisdiction to:
(1) 
Enforce the terms of the conservation easement.
(2) 
Enjoin the violation, by temporary or permanent injunction.
(3) 
Recover any damages to which it may be entitled for violation of the terms of the conservation easement or injury to any conservation values protected by the conservation easement, including damages for the loss of scenic, aesthetic or environmental values.
(4) 
Require the restoration of the protected property to the condition that existed prior to any such injury. Additionally, in any such action where the Town prevails, the Town shall be entitled to recover its reasonable costs, including attorneys' fees, incurred.
C. 
Immediate action required. If the Town Board, in its sole discretion, determines that circumstances require immediate action to prevent or mitigate significant damage to the conservation values of the protected property, the Town Board may pursue its remedies under Subsection B above without prior notice to the owner of the protected property or without waiting for the period provided for cure to expire.
D. 
Rights of other parties. Nothing within Subsections A, B or C above shall restrict any rights of enforcement held by any third party in regard to this conservation easement.
Every conservation easement accepted by the Town shall contain the following duration and termination provisions:
A. 
Duration. All conservation easements conveyed to the Town pursuant to the Conservation Easement Law of the Town of Grand Island shall be of perpetual duration, except as provided in Subsections B and C below.
B. 
Acquisition of fee simple interest by the Town. In the event that the Town acquires a fee simple interest in the property subject to the conservation easement, by eminent domain or otherwise, the conservation easement is terminated. Such termination shall not be subject to any cancellation payments under Subsection C below.
C. 
Cancellation payments. The owner or owners of protected property for which a conservation easement has been granted pursuant to § 121-6A of this chapter may petition the Town Board for cancellation of the conservation easement. Such cancellation, if approved by the Town Board, shall be granted upon payments as specified below:
(1) 
Reimbursement component. All taxes saved and abatements granted pursuant to § 121-7A of this chapter, including any state, county, Town, school district or any special improvement district or other taxing unit to which the property is subject, must be repaid to the Town. Said taxes and abatements shall be computed by determining the difference between the amount of taxes paid on the protected property during the first year after a reduced assessment was granted pursuant to § 121-7A of this chapter and the amount of taxes paid the year prior to that and multiplying said difference by three times the number of complete years a reduced assessment has been granted. The Town shall reimburse the other taxing units in proportion to their appropriate abatement.
(2) 
Penalty component. An amount equal to the reimbursement component shall be paid to the Town.
D. 
Discretion of the Town Board. Notwithstanding Subsection C above, if a reduced valuation assessment has been granted pursuant to § 121-7A of this chapter for a period in excess of 25 years, the Town Board shall have sole discretion to deny the petition for cancellation or impose an alternate penalty which shall not be less than any amount that would be due under Subsection C(1) and (2) above.
E. 
Management of funds from cancellation. All funds accruing to and received by the Town as cancellation payments pursuant to Subsection C or D above shall be deposited in a trust account dedicated for the acquisition and maintenance of open space.
The Town Board, at its discretion, may accept a conservation easement which alters or omits any of the provisions required to be in a conservation easement pursuant to §§ 121-9 and 121-10 of this chapter.