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SECTION 491
Conservation easement agreement exemption; certain towns
Real Property Tax (RPT) CHAPTER 50-A, ARTICLE 4, TITLE 3
* § 491. Conservation easement agreement exemption; certain towns. 1.
Applicability. (a) In a town having a population of not less than eleven
thousand three hundred and not more than eleven thousand four hundred,
that is located in a county having a population of not less then nine
hundred fifty thousand and not more than nine hundred fifty-one
thousand, based upon the latest decennial federal census, is hereby
authorized to adopt a local law to provide that, real property whose
interests or rights have been acquired for the purpose of the
preservation of an open space or an open area, as authorized in section
two hundred forty-seven of the general municipal law, may be partially
exempt from local real property taxation, provided that the owner or
owners of such real property enter into a conservation easement
agreement with the municipality in accordance with the procedures
specified in subdivision three of this section. A county having a
population of not less than nine hundred fifty thousand and not more
than nine hundred fifty-one thousand based upon the latest decennial
federal census may, by local law, and any school district, all or part
of which is located in a town having a population of not less than
eleven thousand three hundred and not more than eleven thousand four
hundred that is located in a county having a population of not less than
nine hundred fifty thousand and not more than nine hundred fifty-one
thousand, may, by resolution, exempt such property from its taxation in
the same manner and to the same extent as such town has done.

(b) A town having a population of not less than eleven thousand three
hundred and not more than eleven thousand four hundred that is located
in a county having a population of not less than nine hundred fifty
thousand and not more than nine hundred fifty-one thousand, based upon
the latest decennial federal census may, by a vote of the town board,
opt out of this exemption at any time.

2. Definitions. For the purpose of this section, the following terms
shall have the following meanings: "open space" or "open area" means any
space or area characterized by natural scenic beauty or whose existing
openness, 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. For the purposes of this definition, "natural
resources" shall include, but not be limited to, agricultural lands
defined as open lands actually used in bona fide agricultural
production.

3. Procedures for obtaining a conservation easement agreement. (a) Any
owner or owners of land may submit a proposal to the town board of a
town having a population of not less than eleven thousand three hundred
and not more than eleven thousand four hundred that is located in a
county having a population of not less than nine hundred fifty thousand
and not more than nine hundred fifty-one thousand, based upon the latest
decennial federal census, for the granting of interest or rights in real
property for the preservation of open space or areas. Such proposal
shall be submitted in such a manner and form as may be prescribed by the
conservation board of such town.

(b) Upon receipt of such proposal, the town board shall convey the
proposal to the conservation board of such town. Such conservation board
shall investigate the area to determine if the proposal would be of
benefit to the people of the town and may negotiate the terms and
conditions of the offer. If the conservation board determines that it is
in the public interest to accept such proposal, it shall recommend to
the town board that it hold a public hearing for the purpose of
determining whether or not the town should accept such proposal.

(c) The town board shall, within thirty days of receipt of such
advisory opinion, hold a public hearing concerning such proposal at a
place within the town. At least ten days notice of the time and place of
such hearing shall be published in a paper of general circulation in
such town, and a written notice of such proposal shall be given to all
adjacent property owners and to any municipality whose boundaries are
within five hundred feet of the boundaries of said proposed area, and to
the school district in which it is located.

(d) The town board, after receiving the reports of the conservation
board of a town having a population of not less than eleven thousand
three hundred and not more than eleven thousand four hundred that is
located in a county having a population of not less than nine hundred
fifty thousand and not more than nine hundred fifty-one thousand, based
upon the latest decennial federal census, and after such public hearing,
may adopt the proposal or any modification thereof it deems appropriate
or may reject it in its entirety.

(e) If such proposal is adopted 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 county clerk's office.

(f) Such agreement may not be canceled by either party. However, the
owner or owners thereof may petition the town board for cancellation
upon good cause shown, and such cancellation may be granted only upon
payment of the penalties provided in this section.

4. Computation. (a) An exemption granted pursuant to this section
shall commence as of the effective date of the conservation easement
agreement, and shall terminate upon the expiration or termination of
such conservation easement agreement.

(b) The following table shall illustrate the computation of the
exemption:

Commitment Percentage of Exemption

15 to 29 years 50%

30 to 49 years 75%

50 to 75 years 85%

Perpetual 90%
Such exemption shall be granted only upon application by the owner or
owners of such real property on a form prescribed by the commissioner.
Such application shall be filed with the assessor of the town on or
before the taxable status date of such town.

(c) If satisfied that the applicant is entitled to an exemption
pursuant to this section, the assessor shall approve the application and
such real property shall thereafter be exempt from taxation and special
ad valorem levies as provided in this section commencing with the
assessment roll prepared on the basis of the taxable status date. The
assessed value of any exemption granted pursuant to this section shall
be entered by the assessor on the assessment roll with the taxable
property, with the amount of the exemption shown in a separate column.

(d) Whenever a conservation easement encumbers only a portion of a
parcel, the assessor shall henceforth enter that portion of the parcel
encumbered by such easement as a separate parcel on all subsequent
assessment rolls.

5. Penalties for offenses. If there is a violation of the terms and
conditions of the conservation easement agreement or if such
conservation easement agreement is canceled by the town board upon
petition, then the owner or owners of such property must pay to the town
the following amounts:

(a) All taxes abated pursuant to the conservation easement agreement,
as limited by the remainder of this section, including, if applicable,
those taxes imposed by the county, town, school districts and all
special improvement districts and other taxing units to which the
property is subject. Repayment of the aforementioned abated taxes shall
be equal to five times the taxes saved in the last year in which the
land benefited from a conservation easement agreement exemption, plus
interest of six percent per year compounded annually for each year in
which an exemption was granted, not exceeding five years.

(b) Payments shall be added by or on behalf of each taxing
jurisdiction to the taxes levied on the assessment roll prepared on the
basis of the first taxable status date after there is a violation of the
terms and conditions of the conservation easement or such conservation
easement agreement is canceled.

* NB There are 2 § 491's