MET offers free Conservation Easement Course

Conservation Easements are an important tool for land preservation, let the folks at Maryland Environmental Trust walk you through the process. See the press release below:

Maryland Environmental Trust presents a free informational course:

“Conservation Easements – Legal and Financial Aspects”

Monday, October 18, 2010 from 8:45 a.m. to 12 noon

What you will learn:  In this course you will learn standard conservation easement terms; the property, income and estate tax benefits of donating a conservation easement; and basics of conservation easement appraisals.  You will walk away knowing the full suite of advantages that conservation easements provide your landowner clients. The course will cover the easement donation process and provide the tools needed to advise clients on such a donation.  The course will also include recent changes in the Internal Revenue Code relating to charitable donations of conservation easements. Areas of legal practice include: Real Estate, Estate Planning and Tax Law.

Who should attend: Attorneys, CPAs, Appraisers, Real Estate Agents, and landowners interested in land conservation

Speakers include:  James Constable, Esq. of Wright, Constable and Skeen, L.L.P.  Mr. Constable’s areas of practice include conservation easements and estate planning; he is the author of several publications on these subjects.

Don Briggs, MAI, SRA, of Briggs and Associates, Inc. Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants.  Mr. Briggs has over 36 years of appraisal experience, holds the Appraisal Institute’s Valuation of Conservation Easements certificate, and is Maryland’s only LEED AP+ Appraiser.

Kristen O. Maneval, Esq. of the State of Maryland Office of the Attorney General, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  Ms. Maneval is counsel to the Maryland Environmental Trust.

John Hutson, Maryland Environmental Trust Conservation Easement Program Manager.  Mr. Hutson has more than 20 years experience negotiating, drafting, processing and stewarding conservation easements in Maryland.

Doors open at 7:45 am and the program will begin at 8:45 am.  Coffee and breakfast will be provided.

This event will be held in
People’s Resource Center, Conference Room A,
First Floor, 100 Community Place, Crownsville, Maryland.
Parking is free.

For a course agenda and driving directions please visit This course is free.

Please register before October 13th by sending an email with the subject of “Register Conservation Easements – Legal and Financial Aspects” to or by calling 410-514-7901.

For more information please visit MET’s website:

Maryland Environmental Trust, a state-wide land trust, has been accepting conservation easements for more than three decades and holds over 1000 easements, protecting over 125,000 acres of forest, farmland and scenic open space across Maryland.  MET was established in 1967 by the Maryland General Assembly to preserve privately owned farm and forest lands and significant natural resources. MET is a unit of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and is governed by a citizen board of trustees.

Frederick Court decision regarding Global Mission Church

Frederick Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the Frederick County Planning Commission’s (FCPC)decision to deny GMC’s Water and Sewer (W+S) Plan Amendment. Full court decision here.

Why does this Matter?

This case affirms that GMC must work within the 5,000 gpd septic capacity. With the size of their buildings and congregation, this seems impossible without seriously scaling down their proposed footprint and programming, no such backtracking has happened in the 2+ years of hearings on this issue. With this decision it seems more likely than ever that the site plan will be denied.

 The court case challenging the FredCo Board of Appeals ruling is still pending, we can expect it to begin in earnest in September. The full Petition for Judicial Review of the BOA decision can be found here..

To read all past posts on the GMC issue, click here and scroll down.


The court decision is from a case filed in Circuit Court by GMC way back in the fall of 2008, with amendments in February of 2009.

Most Churches that apply for permits to build in FredCo’s Ag zone are small enough that normal well and septic, allowing 5000 gallons/day, are enough to support the size of their congregation. The plans for the GMC property would need far more than 5000 gpd to accommodate the many thousands of congregants attending services, Church estimates went as high as 11,600 gpd! (see p. 14 of Court Decision)

To increase the available water and septic on their site above the 5,000 gpd cap, GMC applied for a “multi-use” system designation, requiring an amendment to the County Wide Water and Sewer Plan. In deciding whether such a system should be allowed, the FCPC took the following into account:

- The Frederick County Comprehensive Plan seeks to limit development west of 270, “for conservation and rural/Ag uses to protect Sugarloaf Mountain, the Bennett Creek Corridor and other Natural Resources in the area.” The Urbana region section of the Comp Plan also specifically seeks to limit development in stream valleys, particularly along Little Bennett Creek.

- A large increase in available water and septic means more density is possible on that site, meaning more people, more buildings and more traffic, in opposition to the Comp Plan guidelines.

- Access to this site is not ideal; a 300 ft bridge (think of a football field) would have to be built over Little Bennett Creek, again in opposition to the Comp Plan.

In other words, FCPC members looked at all the pertinent factors and denied the Church’s plan because it was inconsistent with a number of Master Plans. We believe they acted in a logical, responsible fashion.

GMC, however, brought suit claiming that none of the previously mentioned factors should have any bearing on the FCPC’s decision, that the FCPC should have only looked at the septic capacity guidelines.

The Court’s decision upheld the FCPC’s decision, noting that the FCPC was duty bound to consider both consistency with Comprehensive Plans and the impact of higher density on the surrounding areas.

To read all past posts on Global Mission Church, click here and scroll down.

Barnesville Oaks: Results of July 22 Hearing


Despite clear evidence that the subdivision plan that provides for large, suburban clusters of non-ag homes would conflict with the master plan and that maximum density is not guaranteed density…the Board, with dissent from Commissioner Amy Presley, approved the plan. Gazette Coverage of the Meeting.

This issue is by no means over, we have a few reasons to remain hopeful.

 -First, we did achieve success with the argument that the existing structures (guest/tenant/main houses) must be counted towards the density. Originally the Board was inclined to leave that argument for another day. Thus, the Board crafted the following:

Barnesville Oaks PP Condition #13
“Record Plat must reference a recorded easement for the parent parcels indicating (1) that density and TDRs for the platted lots was removed from the parent parcels; and (2) per §59-C-9.41 of the Zoning Ordinance, following this subdivision any farm tenant dwelling, farm tenant mobile home or guest house is included in the total permitted density of 33 residential structures on the property.”

-Moreover, we have an opportunity to file a motion to reconsider within 10 days of the written decision. There is every reason to take this step. MCA staff is compiling information needed to make the filing.

-We remain optimistic that we still may gain access to the owner in order to begin a dialogue about conservation options for the property.

Thanks to all who wrote in and attended the hearing. Your input matters and your testimony is now included in the record.

Warm Regards,

Montgomery Countryside Alliance

Read on for the background on Barnesville Oaks

Take note: Public Hearing on proposed development
 of Barnesville Oaks scheduled for July 22, 7 pm.

Click here for agenda and staff report with summary
of community concerns as well as address.
  Staff has
approval with conditions.

MCA and Sugarloaf Citizen’s Association have hired a law
firm to represent the community and uphold the master
plan at the hearing.  Consider a contribution via PayPal to help
fund this effort- make a notation that your donation is for the Barneville
Oaks legal fund. See original action alert below:

Barnesville Oaks:
This isn’t farming…This is Suburbia!
Barnesville Oaks (formerly Malsalma):The largest farm left in
Montgomery County!
This proposed residential subdivision, up to 24 lots (33 total
with existing homes) , on the  840 acre farm on Peach Tree and
White Store Roads in the Ag Reserve, will be heard before the
Planning Commission on Thursday, July 22. We have an
opportunity to lower the number of  lots approved.
Your Voice Matters!
Please take a moment now to write a brief email – even a few sentences will do -
in opposition to the number of residential estate lots planned for this last largest
farm in the Ag Reserve. If you email before close of business on Tuesday 6/29, your
letter will be included in the staff report.
A brief personal email, instead of a form letter, has much more force. Below are 
talking points.
Send your email to Planning staff:  
Talking points:
1. Tell them where you live and why the Ag Reserve is important.
2. This much density clustered along Peach Tree Rd., in addition to the
two other existing residential clusters, will further degrade Peach Tree, a rustic
road.  If approved, There will be over 50 new homes   clustered on this road within
the viewshed of Sugarloaf Mountain. Traffic issues, 36 acres of forest lost.
3  This plan conflicts with the purpose of the Master Plan by introducing more  suburban-style subdivisions which conflict with farming.
4. Ask the Planning Commission to decrease the number of lots, since Peach Tree
has already been significantly impacted by clustered development. We must protect
the Ag Reserve from becoming a suburban/exurban village.
6. Ask them to provide opportunity to explore conservation easements with the property owner.
Note: Public hearing July 22nd, tentative time is 7:30pm in Silver Spring.  Details will follow that will include staff report.
 Many thanks to Dolores Milmoe of Audubon Naturalist Society for this blast and map!  Thanks to you for your action! Please forward to your neighbors and interested groups.
Warm regards,
Caroline Taylor, Executive Director
Montgomery Countryside Alliance
Want to learn more about how you can help the Ag Reserve?
Visit Our Website and Join MCA Today!
Montgomery Countryside Alliance
P.O Box 120 – Boyds, MD 20841 – 301-349-5021