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Purchasing easements or using similar techniques to shape design outcomes

The Doctor

Hi, I am doing research to see if anyone is using the following strategy to influence design/development outcomes:

Purchase of easements, say by the local government, wherein the property owner is provided cash or similar considerations in exchange for agreeing that the affected development/redevelopment site be limited in some way and/or conform to specified design parameter (or potentially, even to limit uses, or accomplish some other objective).

A related approach used fairly widely is the purchase of façade easements for historic properties/in historic districts, wherein the property conveys their right to modify the façade of their building beyond a range of acceptable historically-derived design/architectural parameters to a governmental agency in exchange for financial assistance. This strategy helps preserve the historical character of the affected area by keeping the façades of the buildings there within the appropriate style, or desired character, and also helps the property owners to do so by providing them financial assistance. Two other advantages of this strategy are: it is non-regulatory, and in this day and age, it is sometimes difficult to use rigorous regulations as tools to achieve publicly desired outcomes; and, being that the governmental agency is only acquiring an easement, not the greater property holdings (e.g., through fee simple purchase) it can be reasonably inexpensive.

So I am curious about using this approach to achieve other kinds of public-purposes...here are a few that come to mind: providing lighting that meets certain standards; limiting the width of non-residential structures; providing a high proportion of fenestration/window glazing within one or more façades; incorporating smaller, or even, price-limited (affordable) housing units within a development; locating structures closer to the street; etc.

I am particularly interested in the applicability of this approach as a catalyst to facilitate pedestrian-oriented design and redevelopment along urban corridors.

Any examples, ideas, notions, critiques appreciated!

Thanks! Dr. B