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Park District Uses Conservation Easement to Preserve Viewshed
POSTED: 11/21/2001
A scenic view from the Shawnee Mission Park Dam in at least one direction has now been preserved perpetually. This is the first use of a legal mechanism the Johnson County Park and Recreation District hopes to put to additional use in the future.

During its Sept. 19 meeting, the JCPRD Board approved a conservation easement with Lenexa resident Nancy Beezley.

The idea of donating a conservation easement came about after Beezley, whose property is located southwest of the dam, approached JCPRD Land Acquisition Manager Bill Maasen seeking a way to reduce her tax burden on at least part of the 24 acres she owns. Maasen proposed that she consider donating a conservation easement to the District and she voluntarily agreed.

“In essence, what Mrs. Beezley did was transfer the development rights for her property to the Park District with the exception of two acres of the original 24 acres, where she can either sell to a third party or build one house,” Maasen explained. “The other 22 acres cannot be built on and have to remain as they are today. The public doesn’t have access to it, but in essence, what we are trying to create is a permanent viewshed so that it always looks like it looks today. The view from the Shawnee Mission Lake Dam is oneof the most scenic vistas in Johnson County and it is important that this be maintained for future generations”

In addition to conserving the view from the park, this action also reduced the value of Beezley’s property by a significant percentage and donation of the easement also has the potential to reduce her federal income tax burden.The only cost to the District was for an appraisal of Beezley’s property and staff and legal counsel time.

If Beezley or a subsequent property owner wanted to eliminate the easement at a later point in time, they would now have to negotiate with the District, Maasen said. This easement is now permanent and its removal would involve a difficult process.

“The Johnson County Park and Recreation District now has an ownership interest in that property and the disposal of that easement will be no easier that with other District assets," Maasen said. "When the District was created in the 1950's, the enabling statutes made it extremely difficult to sell land or other District assets and the ownership of this easement will not be treated any differently."

While this easement came about at the initiation of the property owner, Maasen said he anticipates the District may begin actively seeking conservation easements from other adjacent property owners near several of its parks.

For more information, contact Land Acquisition Manager Bill Maasen at (913) 438-7275.

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