(2/15) In December the Land Conservancy of Adams County finalized an agreement with an Oxford Township couple to preserve their 19.5-acre property from development.
"I’ve been thinking about preserving this land for the last ten years," said landowner Tom Colgan. "We live on a small tract of land, but it’s surrounded by houses. It’s a refuge for wildlife and we both love wildlife, so protecting that habitat was one of our primary motivations. And we’ve always thought it was a good idea to preserve farmland and forestland."
Tom and his wife Jackie had admired this plot of land long before they purchased it in 1970. "When I lived in the Hanover area, I’d travel by it on my way to and from work," Tom explained. "I used to look back at this farm rather wistfully—you could see it from the road in those days—because there were these beautiful white oak trees on it that I admired. By chance one day
I happened to sit beside a real estate agent at a PTA meeting who told me the land was on the market. When we bought the land, we began planting trees, and those trees have grown pretty tall by now. So what used to be land under tillage and pasture has been allowed to grow up in trees, and it’s become a really good refuge for wildlife. We saw a flock of turkeys out there yesterday, and there are
deer here in pretty good numbers. The varieties of birds are really wonderful. We thought it would be a nice legacy to leave behind for future generations."
While it took Jackie a little longer to warm to the idea of preserving the property, today she’s glad they went through the process. "I know this place could be developed, and I really didn’t want to do that—I hate to see farmland go," she said.
"This property is a unique and secluded haven," noted Land Conservancy Conservation Coordinator Sarah Kipp, who worked with the Colgans on finalizing the project. "It was especially meaningful to us because it was the first property to be preserved in Oxford Township by either the Land Conservancy or the county’s farmland preservation program. Oxford Township was the only
municipality in the county without any preserved lands, so this was an important milestone for us to achieve."
The Colgans have protected their land from development through the use of a conservation easement, a legal document describing the amount and kind of development a landowner chooses to allow on the land, both now and in the future. The easement is recorded with the property deed and limits the development rights of future landowners in perpetuity.
While some landowners receive financial compensation in exchange for limiting the development rights to their land, the Colgans chose to donate their conservation easement, meaning they received no financial compensation, though for many landowners, donating an easement can result in significant tax savings.
The Land Conservancy of Adams County is a fully accredited, member-supported nonprofit land trust with the mission of preserving the rural lands and character of Adams County. The Land Conservancy partners with local landowners to protect farmland, woodland, and historic and recreational spaces from development. Since its founding in 1995, the Land Conservancy has worked
with Adams County landowners to preserve nearly 10,000 acres of rural land. For more information about the Land Conservancy, visit LCACnet.org.
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