Tax freeze granted with Solebury easement

Owners of properties with overlay easements receive a freeze in the school tax rate.

By: Linda Seida
   SOLEBURY — The Board of Supervisors last week gave thanks to one of the township’s "pioneers" of land preservation, allowing an overlay easement for property that once belonged to playwright Moss Hart that will result in a freeze of the school tax rate for the current owner.
   The Delamontagne family now owns the Hart property, and supervisors accepted their overlay easement Feb. 3. They’re the latest in "a large number of landowners who are involved" with granting overlay easements to the township, according to Supervisor Sue Kroupa.
   "They’re the forerunners, the pioneers of land preservation in Solebury," Ms. Kroupa said.
   The law granting the tax rate freeze applies only to easements held by governments, not by private groups. Some of the earliest preservation easements had been granted to such private organizations, including Natural Lands Trust and the Heritage Conservancy, both nonprofit organizations.
   That’s where Solebury’s overlay easement comes into play — the involvement of local government fulfills the legal requirement and will allow the tax rate freeze to take effect.
   In exchange, the owners — and future owners — of such properties agree to preserve their land and not develop it.
   "The township now has a part in the easement through overlay," Ms. Kroupa said. "It is a tax relief that is granted through state ordinance our school board chose to enact" several years ago.
   "We feel it’s a good way to thank people for being interested in preserving their property," she said. "We’re very grateful to our landowners, especially when they gift it."