Turning Unbuilt Project Sites Into Open Space
"In March, DeLuca enlisted an unlikely suitor when Buckingham Township paid $5 million for a conservation easement on 200 acres of the land. The easement, paid for with money from the township open space program, limits development on the land, in theory, forever DeLuca still owns the land, but the easement is supposed to guarantee that it will remain farmland regardless of who might eventually buy the property.
The Buckingham Township deal is a win for open-space advocates in a fight that is being repeated across the country. As developers struggle to avoid bankruptcy, municipalities and land conservancies, often working together, are buying up land and easements in the real estate fire sale. Coming up with the cash isn't easy for strapped municipalities in these tough economic times, but some had dedicated cash for these purposes when times were better, and some of the opportunities seem too good to pass up. The power struggle between developers and slow-growth proponents has shifted, in many cases giving environmentalists the upper hand, at least for now."