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The Livingston Land Conservancy
P.O. Box 236
Brighton, MI 48116-0236
(810) 229-3290

Information for Local Developers

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the benefits to the developer to use open space planning?

A: When using the open space concept in developing land there are a couple of obvious benefits: 1) When the homes are positioned on smaller lots the infrastructure costs are reduced, thus the cost per lot is reduced. 2) When a subdivision has open space it is considered an asset in the view of potential buyers and becomes a valuable selling tool.

Q: What is an open space site plan for residential developments?

A: Generally speaking, it is the ability to consolidate the amount of new homes allowed on a piece of property onto a portion of the property, thus leaving the remaining portion of the property undeveloped. In some cases the "undeveloped" part of the property is used for recreation such as ball fields, walking trails, farming, or just left in its existing natural state. The undeveloped part of the property is called the open space and in site condominium developments it is called the common area.

Q: Are there tax benefits when using the open space concept?

A: The Livingston Land Conservancy is not qualified to give tax advice, so we recommend you consult with your tax professional to get the advice that pertains to your individual circumstances. It may be possible to donate the undeveloped portion of an open space plan to a group such as the Livingston Land Conservancy and take a deduction like a charitable contribution. It would be important to incorporate the land donation into the planning process that happens with the local planning commission.

Q: Will the Livingston Land Conservancy accept all open spaces?

A: Not all land is practical for the Livingston Land Conservancy to own or hold an easement on. When a developer designs their development, it is advisable to attempt to keep the vacant land as "intact" as possible. In other words, small slivers of land behind many lots, is not a good plan to protect open spaces. These skinny shapes with many landowners adjacent to the open spaces are not easy to maintain and hard to monitor for trespassing and violations. The open spaces should include as many of the environmentally sensitive areas as possible and they should be kept adjacent to other open tracts if possible to encourage wildlife corridors and the enhancement of adjacent natural properties.

Q: Does the developer need to give a deed to the land in order for the Livingston Land Conservancy to protect it.

A: No, not necessarily. The Livingston Land Conservancy can also protect land by way of a conservation easement. (See section on conservation easements for a more complete explanation.) For us to take an easement on an open space in a subdivision there will need to be a specific agreement as to what we are protecting and how we are to protect it, and there will usually be some type of fee required in order for us to enforce the easement in perpetuity.

Q: If I am thinking of working with the Livingston Land Conservancy what should I do first?

A: It is advisable to have a meeting with one of our organization before your site plans are initiated. We encourage involvement at the onset of a project. If we are on board before plans are drawn we can work with you and your engineer so the concept is beneficial to all involved.

If you would like more information regarding the Livingston Land Conservancy and what the potential benefits may be for us to be involved in your next project please contact us at: