The Conservation Easement Review Board will operate the Conservation Easement Agreement program for the Town of Bethlehem, which consists of the review of conservation easement agreement applications.
The Conservation Easement Agreement program is intended to conserve open space lands, help maintain the character of the Town, and provide financial incentives and assistance to those landowners willing to forego development and maintain open space. Property owners who commit to conserving land as open space for a minimum of 15 years can receive an exemption on their property assessment resulting in a reduction in property taxes, under such conditions as specified within Section 491 of the Real Property Tax Law, the Bethlehem Town Code, and as are further specified in a conservation easement agreement with the Town. While conserving developable lands is the central purpose of the program, constrained lands, and other lands that may be held out of development because of agricultural use or otherwise being preserved are also highly valued as open space, and for their contribution of habitat for wildlife or active or passive enjoyment by the public at large. If a landowner is willing to forgo development, the Conservation Easement Review Board is to liberally apply the statutory definition of open space and the following guiding principles.
The Conservation Easement currently applies to all Town and Fire District taxes and to Bethlehem Central School taxes. However, Albany County is considering opting in and the other school districts within the Town have the option to join in the program.