continued Easements can be attached to developed or undeveloped land (trail, open space, conservation easements) as well as to specific buildings or parts of buildings (architectural or façade easements). Most easements are attached to the property deed and therefore apply to all current and future owners of the property.
“When someone donates an easement, it’s a big deal; they’re really doing something they love,” said Judy Gianforte, director of the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation. “The Osbornes felt strongly that they wanted an extra layer of protection on top of the deed restrictions with this easement.”
The Hillcrest easement took six months to complete and required meticulous documentation of the estate’s historical, architectural and topographical features, including appraisals, surveys and title work. The Osbornes paid for the cost of the entire easement process as part of their donation, Gianforte said.
According to the easement, its purpose is to “assure that the exterior architecture and the historic, cultural and associated open space features of the property will be retained and maintained forever substantially in their current or better condition.”
The easement prohibits the demolition or removal of the four historic buildings, the addition of any new permanent structures, any decrease in the visibility of the property and buildings from adjacent roads and public areas, the subdivision of tax parcels and any industrial or commercial activities. Actions on the estate that are subject to approval by the CPF as easement holder include any alteration of exterior portions of the structures, placement of additional structures such as fences or walls, topographical changes, signage, removal or substantial pruning of trees larger than 12 feet and any other changes to other character-defining features. The easement also requires that the property be accessible to the public a minimum of one day per year.
CPF’s role as the easement holder is to regularly inspect and monitor the property to ensure that the terms of the easement are held in perpetuity, through successive owners of the property. If any violations occur in the future, the CPF is responsible to enforce the easement, including going to court if necessary.