Conservation Easement Review Board

Meetings


  • Next meeting is Thursday, July 12, 2-4 pm, Room 101B, Town Hall
  • Meetings are open to the public.
  • Agendas and notes are posted here.
  • Please check the web site for any scheduling changes.

Agendas & Minutes


The most current agenda is available prior to the meeting. Minutes are available following approval.


Members

Name Term Expires
Joseph Martens (Chair)
December 31, 2021
Joseph Castiglione
December 31, 2018
Francis Sheehan December 31, 2019
Stuart Lyman
December 31, 2020
John Sherman December 31, 2022

Overview

The volunteer, five-member Conservation Easement Review Board (CERB) operates the Conservation Easement Exemption (CEE) program for the Town of Bethlehem, which consists of the review of conservation easement agreement applications.  As of a December 13, 2017 Town Board resolution, the CERB will also advise the town on all open space planning efforts.  Please visit the town’s Open Space Planning page to learn more about these broader open space conservation and planning initiatives, documents and events with which the CERB is involved.

The Conservation Easement Exemption 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.

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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.

View our Bethlehem Conservation Easement Agreement Exemption Information Booklet and Conservation Easement Exemption fact sheet.

Applications for a Conservation Easement Agreement are available at the Town Hall Assessor’s Office and Planning Department.

The exemption form, Conservation Easement Agreement Exemption RP-491-a (Bethlehem), is on the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Office of Real Property Tax Services web site.

The Conservation Easement currently applies to all Town and Fire District taxes, Albany County taxes, and to Bethlehem Central School taxes. The other school districts within the Town have the option to join in the program but have not yet done so.
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Consider applying for Bethlehem’s Conservation Easement Exemption program - save nature while saving money…

If you own 5 acres or more of open space land in town, you may be able to reduce your town, county and school (currently BCSD only) taxes by as much as 90% through the town’s voluntary landowner Conservation Easement Exemption program (CEE).  By agreeing to not develop your open space land, you could be saving nature while saving money. Landowner applications to the CEE are accepted on a rolling basis and are reviewed by the town’s Conservation Easement Review Board (CERB) and Town Board.

Conservation
Term

Percentage Tax Exemption
     15 – 29 years     50%
     30 – 49 years     75%
     50 – 75 years     85%
     Perpetual     90%

The application deadline in order to meet the following year’s tax cycle is October 1st of the previous year (e.g., apply by October 1, 2017 for a 2018 tax cycle exemption).

Questions about applying for a CEE or about the CERB? Please reach out to Karen Shaw, Open Space Coordinator for the town, via email at OpenSpace@townofbethlehem.org or by calling Karen at 518-439-4955 x 1106.