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Thread: Land trust?

  1. #1
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    Land trust?

    Hello,

    My aunt works for a social service agency in northern Kentucky. There is an old gasoline service station in her community that has become an eyesore and attractive nuisance.

    The neighborhood activists in the area would like to purchase the site, raze the building, and turn it into a park or public open space.

    The city has no interest in participating, her agency is already expended its budget on other projects, and no one really wants to own the land (who even knows about site contamination, etc.?).

    Here’s the question: What are the options here? Does a land trust make sense? Do they usually buy and hold land that is for open space (that will never earn income)? If not a land trust, any other options?

    This seems to be an interesting way to “retro-green” a city. Can anyone point me in the right direction in terms of who to speak with about this?

    Thank you so much in advance!

    Chad Meadows, AICP
    chadmeadows@nc.rr.com

  2. #2
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    I'm no expert on land trusts, but they have been used to hold, protect and maintain land for various reasons, including conservaton, affordable housing, and investment.

    I agree that a land trust could be a useful mechanism for taking over an abandoned building, razing it, and maintaining the land as some form of open space. However, I don't see this happening unless there is some sort of funding stream to purchase, clear, landscape and maintain the property. Since this would be a non-profit venture (and the City has no interest), the only funding sources available to you would be donations and grants.

    For more help, you should contact the Land Trust Alliance. They have a list of land trusts operating in each county of the U.S. Kentucky's list is here:

    http://www.ltanet.org/landtrustdirec..._id=kentucky21

    You may have to register with the LTA to view this page. Registration is free.

    As for the property being an old gas station, well, you probably already know why it sits abandoned and unused. One leaky underground tank can ruin your whole day. Check with http://www.waste.ky.gov/branches/ust/ to see if your site has an underground storage tank and if it's on the leaky list. If so, it's probably a brownfield, so you should check out http://www.dca.ky.gov/brownfields/Ke...+Inventory.htm to see if its listed. There are resources available for testing, just check on that page.

    Of course, if I owned land that was potentially contaminated, I wouldn't let anyone test for it while it was in my possession lest I be stuck with it (or the bill). And if I owned it and someone else tested it and found it to be free of problems (or at least to only have inexpensive problems), then I suddenly might not want to sell it anymore as it would magically have value again. So, I don't see how this idea could move forward until the land trust was already set up and already had taken posession of the land (contaminated or not). Hopefully for your plans, it's City owned and they can get it for the (assumed) back taxes.

    To be clear, the issue here isn't the land trust (those are easy), it's the potential contamination and remediation issues. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    And look what just turned up at that "other" planning website:

    A “Button Park” in Your Future?

    http://citiwire.net/post/1496/

    "When the Trust for Public Land (TPL), working with the Colorado Health Foundation, brought together groups concerned about the disconnect of children from nature, TPL leaders and I brainstormed on the future of land trusts in tough economic times. Considering this approach, a TPL leader suggested that neighborhood leaders might also identify abandoned houses, buy them, raze them, and turn them into natural parkland or community gardens. “We really do have to think about creating nature, not just preserving it,” he said."

    Looks like a case of great minds thinking alike.

  4. #4
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    JimPlans,

    Thank You!!! What great info! I see an APA conference session on "retro-greening" formulating.

    Chad Meadows, AICP
    Clarion Associates

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