September 22, 2020

Conservation Restrictions and Osamaquin Farm in Seekonk

Posted by KathleenLeddy

What is a conservation restriction? A conservation restriction or CR (also known as a conservation easement) is a legal agreement that prevents any future development of the land, but does not alter the ownership of the land. This agreement is documented and recorded with the deed and is passed along to all future owners. It is enforced by the organization that holds the CR, typically a state or federal conservation agency or a private nonprofit organization such as a land trust.

CR’s are appealing to some landowners because they are permanent, long-term agreements that can be crafted with a high degree of flexibility. The exact terms of a CR can be tailored to the individual characteristics of a property, and to the needs and interests of the landowner(s). CRs may allow timber management, wildlife improvements, trail creation, and agricultural use. After a CR is executed, the taxable value of the land may decrease significantly, possibly making it easier to pass the land on to the next generation. In most cases, public access is not required when a CR is placed on the land. While a CR restricts land from being developed, parcels of land may be excluded and set aside for future building lots.

The Seekonk Land Conservation Trust (SLCT) is a partner with Osamequin Farm in Seekonk supporting the use of their conservation land for organic farming. Anne and Davis Jencks started conserving the farm in the 1990’s with a total of around 250 acres of woodland, marsh, swamp and other wild habitat put into conservation restrictions. The land is permanently conserved for future generations and helps to maintain the rural character of Seekonk.

Osamequin Farm land north of Walnut Street along Prospect Street was placed in a Conservation Restriction with SLCT in 2015 and encompasses about five acres bordering the environmentally sensitive Runnins River. The Lee family farms here and produce from this operation is used by the Mung community in Providence. South of Walnut Street an additional twelve acres (conserved through CR’s by the Trustees of Reservations) is cultivated for hay and blueberries. There are other farmers from Tooth & Nail, Flower Hill and Hockus Pocus Farms growing herbs, spices, flowers and produce and they distribute this through local CSA’s (community supported agriculture) and local farm markets. The farm stand on Walnut St has produce, eggs, honey, flowers and other products all made on site from these collaborative operations that share equipment and resources like cold storage, produce washing facilities, and water. The Jencks family has had a longstanding interest in promoting local agriculture and more information on this aspect can be found in the ‘History’ tab at www.Osamaquinfarm.com.

Conservation Restrictions (CR’s) have value which is calculated as the difference in value between the land unrestricted with full development rights and the land with the Conservation Restriction which extinguishes some of those rights. After being put into conservation, the land typically decreases in value which also decreases its taxes. CRs can be donated, sold at a reduced price (bargain sale), or sold at fair market value to a conservation organization.

The SLCT holds the CR’s for over 200 acres owned by several Seekonk residents and has extensive expertise in advising land owners on options and benefits. Please contact Steven Sloan at stephen.synnott.sloan@gmail.com if you might be interested in a free consultation.

For additional resource on CR’s and other conservation options please check out the following links:
https://masswoods.org/future-my-land/land-conservation-options  
https://masswoods.org/sites/masswoods.org/files/pdf-doc-ppt/Protecting-Your-Legacy.pdf  
https://masswoods.org/sites/masswoods.org/files/pdf-doc-ppt/FAQ_about_CRs.pdf 

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