The Charlotte Land Trust, together with the Lake Champlain Land Trust (LCLT) and the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), has been working with Jim Donovan and Patricia O’Donnell on the potential conservation of their land at the corner of Lake and Greenbush Roads. Those discussions began even before they purchased the property and have continued since then. Conservation projects require a great deal of trust between the landowner and the land trust and confidentiality is an aspect of that trust. For that reason, we are cautious in the amount of public discussion of details while a project is being negotiated and developed.
This potential conservation project is in the public realm more than almost any other we have worked on and we are providing this update to help answer questions from previous hearings and on Front Porch Forum. The Charlotte Land Trust has a policy of not taking positions on Town regulatory hearings, so our comments are related to the conservation process not the current subdivision hearing.
Our wish is to conserve the entire parcel. A feasibility phase of contacts to potential donors began this summer. While that has been encouraging it is still too early to definitively say that we can meet a fundraising goal. An appraisal is underway and information from that will help us define a project budget which at this point is still an estimate based on experience with other projects. We do know for certain that the success of this potential project will depend on the generosity of donors. Charlotte has a history of support for land conservation and that tradition will be essential to the success of conserving this property.
We are also working on project details that will meet the requirements of grants from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Charlotte Conservation Fund Grants for conservation are highly competitive. As with many grants, evidence of public support will strengthen our application.
LCLT and VLT are both involved with the project because of the different ecosystems. The property might be conserved as one or two lots. VLT would likely have an easement on the farmland and LCLT an easement on the forested/natural area portion if it is conserved as two lots. Easements will be tailored to the different attributes of the land and for the farmland will cover aspects of agricultural use and structures. Jim and Patricia are not proposing a housesite for the forested land and it is not our preference either. However, it’s too early to know if we can raise enough money to not have a housesite and we are mentioning it because it is a possibility.
We want to close with a reminder that this potential project is still being developed and different aspects will continue to evolve. We are not asking for donations right now but will soon. Please check our website at charlottelandtrust.org for updates and information on making a contribution. We value your interest and your commitment to Charlotte’s scenic, natural and working landscape and look forward to your support.