Effective Date: February 2, 2010
Last Reviewed: February 2, 2010


Policy:

Conservation Easement Defined: For the purposes of this policy, a conservation easement is a contribution of a qualified real property interest to Stonehill College exclusively for certain conservation purposes. See IRS Code §§ 170(h)(1), (2), (3), and (4); § 1.170A-14(a). A qualified real property interest includes a restriction (granted in perpetuity) on the use that may be made of the real property. Section 170(h)(2)(C); see also § 1.170A-14(b)(2).

One of the permitted conservation purposes is the protection of a relatively natural habitat of fish, wildlife, or plants, or similar ecosystem. Another of the permitted conservation purposes is the preservation of open space, including farmland and forest land, for the scenic enjoyment of the general public.

A charitable contribution of such an easement is allowed as a deduction for the property owner only if substantiated in accordance with regulations prescribed by the IRS under Section 170 of the IRS Code . This policy shall at all times be interpreted to ensure compliance with the IRS Code.

Basic Acceptance Criteria:

The College will consider the acceptance of a conservation easement based on the following criteria:

1. The acceptance of the easement is consistent with the non-profit mission of the College.

2. The acceptance of the easement will not jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the College.

3. The easement is consistent with permitted conservation purposes and meets IRS standards and has a meaningful benefit to the greater community served by the College.

4. The property does not contain any encumbrances, hazardous wastes, pre-existing substantive easements or restrictions, potential environmental or ecological threats, or other circumstances that would seriously impinge upon the College’s ability to hold a conservation easement.

5. Resources [financial, technical, and human] are available to maintain the land.

Monitoring and Inspection:

The College shall maintain a file on each conservation easement which includes at a minimum:

1. Copies of the Easement

2. Aerial and/or ground photos

3. Civil Engineering summary

The Vice President for Finance or his/her designee will meet with the property owners prior to the College’s final acceptance of the easement and shall ensure that easement boundaries are clearly marked and that the easement is filed on the appropriate land records. Any expenses associated with establishment of the easement shall be at the expense of the property owner unless otherwise approved by the Vice President for Finance in consultation with the President.

The Vice President for Finance or his/her designee will thereafter meet at least annually with the property owners to inspect the property and ensure the integrity of the easement.

Easement Violations and Enforcement:

An easement violation may be discovered through a visit or by casual observation or reported by a third party. The violation may have been caused by the property owner, an adjacent property owner or a third party trespasser. The College will not automatically conclude that the violation has been caused by the property owner. The College will attempt to document the violation upon discovery and take appropriate action.

Relatively minor violations may be addressed in a written monitoring report to the property owner and a request for a planned response or remediation from the property owner. For the purposes of this policy, a minor violation is one that will not cause substantial harm or diminishment of conservation values.

Serious violations including, but not limited to, prohibited construction or subdivision, excavation, timbering without an approved forest management plan, or any other violation that is expressly prohibited by the easement’s terms and one that, if allowed to continue, will substantially impair or diminish the conservation values will be addressed immediately by the College.

The College’s response to a serious violation may include, without limitation, referring the matter to the General Counsel or engaging outside legal counsel to enforce the easement, seeking an injunction to prevent further damage to the conservation values by the activity that violates the easement. The College may alternatively direct the Vice President for Finance or his/her designee to contact the landowner, to explain the situation and the violation and request correction, replacement or cessation of the activity and a deadline for compliance.