A Preservation Easement is a partial interest in a property having historic, architectural or archaeological significance. An easement provides for the preservation of the noteworthy features. Maine Preservation holds preservation easements on historic properties around the state which guarantee the perpetual protection of these properties. The preservation easements are created through voluntary agreements with the property owners. The easements are monitored by Maine Preservation and underwritten by a management fund. Maine Preservation also coordinates with land trusts to preserve homesteads or landmarks in conjunction with natural or open space.
An owner who donates a preservation easement to Maine Preservation may qualify for a federal charitable tax deduction for the value of the easement donated. A monitoring and legal fee is required for each easement accepted by the organization. This fee is used to defray the cost of an annual easement inspection, review of proposed changes by owners, and legal costs for maintaining and enforcing the easement in perpetuity. A typical fee is $25,000. The preservation easement is recorded in the deed of the property so that the owner sells, bequeaths, mortgages or leases the property subject to the easement provisions.
Most commonly, a preservation easement requires the preservation and maintenance of the significant exterior features of protected structures. The easement donor may also extend protection to interior features or the adjoining landscape. Open spaces having special historic and/or archaeological significance may also be the subject or preservation easement restrictions. The conservation of open land lacking special historic or archaeological significance may be achieved through a conservation easement with a land trust or similar organization. Maine Preservation can refer interested persons to an appropriate land conservation organization; the Maine Land Trust Association is also an excellent resource for this information.
Repair, restoration and alteration of a preservation-easement-protected property must have the prior approval of Maine Preservation, which offers the owner the opportunity to receive technical assistance. Maine Preservation uses the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties in evaluating changes. Preservation easements also require continuing maintenance of a property.
A sample preservation easement agreement and application form may be obtained from Maine Preservation upon request. The terms of each easement and any special requirements will vary from property to property. Please contact Maine Preservation at (207) 847-3577 for more information.