Many farms in the township are enrolled in the Michigan P.A. 116 program. This is a temporary means of preserving farmland, since the farm owners enter into a contract with the state for a limited number of years, agreeing not to develop their land in exchange for tax benefits.
Some landowners in the township have chosen to permanently protect their property with a conservation easement. A conservation easement is a voluntary deed restriction that limits the scope and type of development on a property. To date, 227 acres in Bridgewater Township have been permanently protected with conservation easements.
"What is a conservation easement and how does it preserve my land?"
- Farmland, natural land and open space areas can be protected from development – forever – with a legal document called a conservation easement.
- Conservation easements have the following components:
º They are agreements between the landowner (and/or the family trust) and a qualified organization (such as a land conservancy/trust, or government agency).
º They protect the values that are considered worth protecting, called conservation values (agricultural land, open land, forest, natural areas, scenic areas, river frontage, etc.).
º Landowners restrict their development rights when protecting the land. In exchange, their development rights are quantified with an appraisal, and then may be purchased (cash), donated (tax deduction), or a combination of both (bargain sale).
º When written to IRS specifications, conservation easements are permanent and may lead to significant income, estate, and/or property tax benefits for the landowner.
Bridgewater Township Ordinance Number 38 provides for the purchase of development rights on township property, through voluntary application by landowners. “Purchase of development rights” is commonly used to describe conservation easement programs. To see if your property is eligible for a purchase of development rights program, please refer to the Bridgewater Township PDR Eligible Areas Map.
The following programs are available to township residents interested in protecting their land:
- Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission – Natural Areas Preservation Program (NAPP)
- Description: NAPP accepts nominations from county residents for purchase of development rights or fee simple acquisitions. You can find the nomination form here.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 734-971-6337
- Legacy Land Conservancy
- Description: A non-profit dedicated to the permanent protection of natural areas and farmland in Washtenaw and Jackson Counties, by donation or purchase of development rights.
Contact: email@example.com, 734-302-5263
- Raisin Valley Land Trust
- Description: A local, private, non-profit, corporation dedicated to the preservation of natural areas and farmland in the River Raisin watershed through donated development rights.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 734-265-0303
Any township residents interested in learning more about their land preservation options are encouraged to contact the Farmland Preservation Board’s chair, Dan McQueer, or secretary, Remy Long, to learn more. They will help connect landowners to the correct resources.
The following is a list of resources, grant opportunities and cost-sharing programs for township residents interested in land stewardship and farmland certifications: