I’m wondering how other programs evaluate easement costs for Open Space lands?
As OS is often the only undeveloped corridor in the area it is a frequent target/request for utility easements and access. We have a policy in place for evaluating those requests and a fee schedule for the easements.
However, the costs are based on the value of the land. This has been interpreted to be the appraised value. The problem lies in the land use designation. When we acquire lands for Parks and Open Space we rezone them as O-1, Agricultural lands. In an appraisal this is the lowest valued land because of the limited by-right development potential. This can mean that the City purchases land that was zoned for residential or even commercial development, places it in OS then down zones it, effectively lowering its value. When an easement request comes in years later the land is then not being valued as it would have on the open market.
I would be grateful for any policies, practices or insight.
Joe Reale (he/him)
Open Space Superintendent
City of Westminster | Parks, Recreation and Libraries
4800 West 92nd Avenue, Westminster, CO 80031