Belmont and Open Space
Belmont’s shady residential streets; its byways bordered by stone walls; its brooks and ponds; its numerous parks and recreation facilities; and its public and private conservation lands all combine to create a town its citizens cherish. Essential to the town’s character is a high proportion of open space to developed space, unusual in a location close to a large city.
Why Protect Land?
Open space provides tranquility and enjoyment for people, natural habitat for plants and animals, and can offer flood control and cleaner air. These resources and these values demand our attention and protection now so that we may hand them intact to future generations.
Landowners are motivated to protect their land for many different reasons, including family desires, financial needs, and a wish to leave something for the community to use and enjoy today, as well as a legacy of conservation for the future.
Preserving open space makes sense from a town perspective. According to a 2000 study by the American Farmland Trust, for every tax dollar raised by new residential development, the median cost to provide public services is $1.15.
A Land Trust for Belmont
The Belmont Land Trust was formed in 1999 when a group of residents realized that Belmont needs an independent organization to work with citizens, town officials, interested organizations, surrounding communities, and others to respond swiftly when opportunities arise to preserve precious open land.
One critical tool of a land trust is the Conservation Restriction. Working with an interested landowner, the land trust creates an agreement to protect the land permanently. The landowner retains ownership of the property while agreeing to limit development and other activities that could degrade the natural and scenic value of the property.
Additional aspects of the Belmont Land Trust’s work are:
Education and assistance to local government and community groups about strategic land preservation and resource protection;
Landowner and neighbor counseling to increase awareness of conservation options and financial benefits of land conservation;
Restriction monitoring to ensure proper stewardship of conserved land;
Assisting in negotiation between conservation minded sellers and buyers.