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Conservation Easements: A Vehicle for Land Confiscation

Written by Donna Holt

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Martha Boneta's small 70-acre farm, previously the center of the famous "pitchfork protest", is once again under attack.

ConservationeasementShe purchased the farm with a Conservation Easement from the Piedmont Environmental Council. Conservation Easements are touted as a means to protect resources such as productive agricultural land, wildlife habitat, historic sites or scenic views. They are used by landowners ("grantors") to authorize a qualified conservation organization or public agency ("grantee") to monitor and enforce the restrictions set forth in the agreement. Federal and state governments grant vast sums in tax benefits to the grantor in exchange for relinquishing all or part of the development rights and meeting the specified terms of the agreement.

Mrs. Boneta was not the grantor of the easement on her property nor was she awarded any tax benefits or subsidies. She bought the property with the easement and is bound by the terms of the original agreement that are passed on to any subsequent owner permanently. She had a reasonable expectation that the easement on her farm would assure that the land would be preserved for her intended purpose - farming.

What could possibly go wrong?

One minute she is a responsible organic farmer with the required license to sell her vegetables and fruits; the next, she is bullied and fined for contrived violations by Fauquier County Administrators.

They never obtained a warrant nor set foot on her property to gather actual evidence. Instead a county bureaucrat relied on unscrupulous, unlawful methods to bring charges against Mrs. Boneta. They ignored due process of law which is a common practice used to intimidate citizens into forfeiting their rights and ultimately their property.

One would think the PEC would be in her corner and stand up for her right to farm per the conservation agreement.

But it wasn't enough for the PEC that Martha was bullied into shutting down her farm out of fear of further uncertain charges by Fauquier County carrying possible criminal penalties. The PEC has now put Mrs. Boneta on notice that they intend to inspect the Barn Complex and Smithy "for the purpose of determining if improvements have been made to accommodate residential use".

The conservation easement agreement authorizes the Piedmont Environmental Council the authority to monitor and enforce the terms of the agreement but the notice completely ignores that the agreement allows 1600 sq. ft. of residential space in the Barn Complex.

PEC Vice President, Heather Richards, further believes she can ignore the law by prohibiting Mrs. Boneta from photographing or video recording anyone entering her private property, even to inspect, while asserting the PEC's right to do so.

In essence, Fauquier County Administrators and the PEC are attempting to pull the land right out from under the feet of Martha Boneta without due process of law and totally ignoring the terms of the conservation agreement.

Their position assumes they are above the law and Mrs. Boneta is but a mere serf or tenant on what is her land, while she is still burdened by taxes and other expenses, and subject to the whim and will of Fauquier County Administrators (the king) and the Piedmont Environmental Council (the privileged lords and nobles).

The UN objective of Agenda 21, to extinguish private property rights, is met when wealth and power (property) is transferred to, and accumulated in the hands of the modern ruling elite: government agencies and trusts which form an unholy alliance to defraud rural landowners, like Martha Boneta, of their inherent right of lawful ownership and use of their land.

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 Donna Holt, Executive Director, Virginia Campaign for Liberty

Campaign For Liberty's Mission is to promote and defend the great American principles of individual liberty, constitutional government, sound money, free markets, and a noninterventionist foreign policy, by means of educational and political activity.

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Related:

 Resource Page for Agenda 21 Information: RSN Agenda 21 and below is the directly related content for further study.

 

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