Critical Lands Homepage

Critical Lands Planning Implementation

There are a number of techniques to conserve critical lands.  The matrix below discusses the most common.

Fee Simple Acquisition Outright purchase of land Most complete means of effecting control and preserving land; compensates landowners completely Most expensive approach; managed and maintained by government; takes land off of tax rolls; future administrations may sell land
Easement Agreement restricting land use in order to protect certain characteristics Local governments can initiate purchase of development rights; government has only partial rights and interest in land; income tax deductions for landowners Program is affordable only when development pressures are low and consequently prices are low; does not provide for the complete control of land
Private Land Trust Nonprofit organization which assists landowners & agencies with preservation techniques; purchases and holds conservation easements Land is owned and managed by a non-profit organization; tax benefits for landowners; can buy and hold property for future government acquisition; cost savings for government Public planning objectives must coincide with private land trust objectives to be realized
Purchase and Sellback or Leaseback Agency buys land, leases to agricultural users Enables government to recover a portion of its acquisition costs; government can exercise direct control over development activity Higher burden on government to enforce restrictions; does not necessarily provide for public access
Purchase Option Allows agency the first opportunity to buy land when it goes up for sale Gives government flexibility, security while taking time to make purchase decision Cost to government; option may expire before sale of land; "ties up" property; government is responsible for exercising the option
Purchase Right of First Refusal Government agency has right to purchase first; expires only after agency has had option to purchase Gives government flexibility and stability, time to raise funds for a specific project Cost to government; "ties up" a property; government is responsible for exercising the option
Land Banking Purchase and reservation of land for future development Can lease for immediate use (e.g. agricultural) to recoup part of cost Cost prohibitive
Exactions, Dedications, and Impact Fees Fees and mandates placed on developers to pay for infrastructure and amenities Removes costs of growth from existing residents Complicated to establish; high litigation potential
Transfer of Development Rights Shifts development from sensitive lands, allows higher density development in "off-site" receiving areas Focuses development more appropriately; allows use of existing infrastructure It is necessary to have another developable area with a strong demand for growth; substantial administrative commitments to address land valuation and transfer
Agricultural Protection Area Owners of contiguous land form voluntary association establishing agriculture as primary use of the land Protects farmland; relieves farmers from nuisance complaints from surrounding development; landowner-initiated Only for agricultural lands; non-binding--landowner can pull out at any time
Agricultural Land / Open Space Zoning Variety of local zoning laws designed to protect certain land characteristics or specific places Zoning tool is readily available to local govts.; reduce conflict between agricultural and residential uses Large-lot zoning can promote urban sprawl; can stifle economic growth
Quality Development Standards Regulations protecting certain natural or visual characteristics of a community Community has control over the "look" of development; can target specific aspects to preserve/ highlight Can raise property rights issues; overregulation
Urban Growth Boundary Boundary determined by local government beyond which development is discouraged

Concentrates development where infrastructure already exists; protects rural character of outlying land

Can be restrictive; raises property rights issues; can promote "leapfrog" development
Performance Zoning Developer agrees to meet certain impact requirements, such as leaving a specified amount of land in open space Can target either single or multiple impacts; can supplement or replace traditional zoning regulations Limits development impacts rather than densities or uses; developers must meet a level of performance
Cluster or PUD Zoning Allows high-density construction on part of a parcel in exchange for leaving other parts in open space Allows for open space; minimizes needed roads and infrastructure; provides flexibility for developers to cluster buildings while maintain-ing overall average density restrictions Does not provide for complete control or protection of land
Sensitive Lands Overlay Superimposes additional layers of regulation upon underlying zoning districts; imposes restrictions on special resources, hazards, or sensitive lands Identifies sensitive lands; provides guidelines for development site planning Does not provide for complete control or protection of land
Building Moratorium Local government stops reviewing new building permits for a specified time period Gives local officials time to catch up or change policies/visions in times of heavy development pressure; future permits are evaluated with clearer criteria State law's 6-month moratorium limit may not be enough time; can hurt local economy; does not decrease the number of building permit applications requiring review



Utah Automated Geographic Reference Center Quality Growth Commission Utah State Extension Envision Utah Utah Department of Natural Resources
For more information,
please contact:
Laura Ault, GOPB