|Table of Contents||
Fall River Open Space Plan
GLOSSARY OF OPEN SPACE TERMS
Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC): An area encompassing land and water resources of regional or statewide importance, designated by the Secretary of Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (in accordance with 301 CMR 12:6.40-6.55), to receive additional protection and management.
Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program (MGL Ch. 132A, s.11a-d): One form of a Conservation Restriction which pertains to lands in active agricultural use. The most commonly known APR program is through the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture (DFA) who purchases the development rights to farms. Under the state APR Program, farmers retain ownership to their land and the right to farm or raise livestock on it, but it permanently prohibits all future non-agricultural development (such as residential subdivision or commercial development) on the land. In Westport, MA. for example, the DFA has spent nearly $3.5 million to purchase APRs on 11 farms totaling 1056 acres.
Barrier Beach: A narrow low-lying strip of land generally consisting of coastal beaches and coastal dunes extending roughly parallel to the trend of the coast. It is separated from the mainland by a narrow body of fresh, brackish, or saline water or by a marsh.
Conservation Commission Act (MGL Ch.40, s.8C): Establishes authority of any town or city to create a Conservation Commission and outlines the Commission's powers to "acquire, maintain, improve, protect, limit the future use of or otherwise conserve and properly utilize open spaces in land and water areas within its city or town, and it shall manage and control the same."
Conservation Fund Act (MGL Ch.40, s.5): Allows cities and towns to appropriate money for the maintenance and activities of the Conservation Commission. Monies in the fund may be expended by the Commission for any purpose, including costs associated with acquisition or maintenance of town conservation lands.
Conservation Restriction (MGL Ch.184, ss.31-33): A legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization (land trust), Municipal Conservation Commission, or government agency that permanently limits a property's uses in order to protect the land's conservation value. The voluntary decision by a landowner to place a Conservation Restriction on their land prohibits future development of the property but allows for other activities. Called Conservation Easements in many other states.
*Benefits to city:
Helps town achieve land protection goals without having to buy expensive properties.
Land remains provately held, stays on the tax rolls (at a reduced rate) and is maintained by the landowner, saving the town costs and liability associated with land ownership.
*Benefits to landowner:
Landowner is compensated for the decrease in value of the land placed under a Conservation Restriction through property, income and estate tax relief.
Landowner keeps title to the land, can continue to enjoy and maintain the land, can retain privacy rights and can sell or give the property to family or others. The restriction "runs with the land" and any new owners must abide by its terms.
Habitat: The specific area or environment in which a particular type of plant or animal lives. An organism's habitat must provide all the basic requirements for survival.
Land Trust: A private, non-profit land conservation organization which works with landowners to acquire land or conservation restrictions for permanent conservation. Most communities in the Buzzards Bay region have local land trusts. Some examples include the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (DNRT), Westport Land Conservation Trust, Fairhaven Land Preservation Trust, and Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts. The Greater Fall River Land Conservancy was formed in 1996 and to date has acquired 50 acres of land for conservation.
Land Banking: A fee on real estate transfers in a community that is used to fund open space acquisitions and affordable housing programs. Requires approval of state legislature. Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard are the only places in the state with approved, active land bank systems. Numerous attempts in the past decade to establish land banking in Barnstable County and elsewhere have failed. There are currently bills pending in the Massachusetts legislature that would authorize individual town election of land banking.
Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP): A program within the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries , Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement, which officially maps known habitats of rare and endangered plant and animal species.
Nonpoint Source Pollution: Pollution generated over a relatively wide area and dispersed rather than discharged from a discrete pipe. Some examples are road runoff, septic systems, agricultural runoff.
Open Space and Recreation Plan: A town-specific community planning document which defines a town's goals toward preserving important natural, scenic, agricultural and historic lands for conservation and maintaining adequate outdoor recreation opportunities. The Plan is approved by the Massachusetts Division of Conservation Services and must be updated every five years. Towns with updated, approved Open Space and Recreation Plans are eligible for state funding under the Massachusetts Self-Help Program for the purchase and improvement of land for conservation and recreation.
Private Landowners Liability (MGL Ch.21, s.17C): Massachusetts law that states that an owner of land who permits the public to use such land for recreational purposes without imposing a charge or fee shall not be liable for injuries to persons or property sustained by him while on his land in the absence of willful, wanton or reckless conduct by the owner.
Property Tax Reduction Statutes - Chapter 61: Massachusetts General Laws Chapters 61, 61A and 61B provide for reductions in property tax on lands in active Forest, Agriculture, and Recreational use respectively. Provides incentive for landowners not to develop their land, but does not permanently protect the land. Property can be removed from 61 program classification but the landowner is liable for "roll back" taxes for up to four previous tax years in which the land was classified under these sections. Also, provides that the municipality in which the land is located must be notified of conversion of the land back to residential or other use. The city/town then has 120 days to meet the offer the owner has for the purchase of the property or, if the property is not being sold, to purchase the land for fair market value.
Scenic Roads Act (MGL Ch.40, s.15c): Massachusetts law allowing cities and towns to designate any non-state road within the town as a scenic road. After a road has been designated, any repair, maintenance, reconstruction or paving shall not involve cutting or removal of trees or destruction of stone walls without prior written approval of the local Planning Board after a public hearing has been held.
Self Help & Urban Self Help Programs (MGL Ch.132A, s.2b&11): Grant programs offered by the Division of Conservation Services to Massachusetts Cities and Towns for consrvation and recreation projects. The Self Help Program provides funding assistance for the acquisition of conservation land. Urban Self Help funds the acquisition of park lands and the development or renovation of outdoor recreational facilities. The maximum state share available under these programs is based on the communities equalized valuation per capita decile rank and ranges from 52-70%. Maximum grant awards are $500,000. DCS approved Open Space and Recreation Plans are required for Self Help funding.
Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD): A regional planning agency, located in Taunton, MA., which provides technical and planning asistance to communities in Bristol and Plymouth counties, coordinates inter-municipal activities, and acts as a clearinghouse for regional information.
Watershed: The land surrounding a body of water that contributes fresh water, either from streams, groundwater or surface runoff to a lake, groundwater supply, or coastal waterbody.
Wetlands: Habitats where the influence of surface water or goundwater has resulted in the devlopment of plant and animal communities adapted to aquatic or intermittently wet conditions. Wetlands include saltmarshes, wooded swamps, freshwater marshes, bogs, shallow subtidal areas and similar areas. Protection of and work within wetlands is regulated by the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act which is administered locally by the Conservation Commision.