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The difference between CURRENT USE and a DISCRETIONARY EASEMENT

By
Home Builder
Many of you I am sure are aware of current use, but many may not know what about discretionary easments. Like current use, they are designed to give tax relief to land owners while preserving the land from development. One very important difference between the two is that a discretionary easement has a time frame associated with it. Normally, not less then ten years and potenially a lot longer, land that is in a discretionary easement cannot be developed until the easment expires. This can greatly affect one's ability to use the land as they would like. Unlike current use which stays in effect until the land use is changed, Discretionary Easements cannot be withdrawn prematurely without demonstrating a severe personal hardship. And guess what? The loss of money due to an inability to build or develop is not considered a hardship. I learned this first hand. I am thankful that the piece of land I purchase had a discretioary easement which expired two years after I purchased the property. Now here's the good news. Unlike current use, when land comes out of a discretionary easment, it all comes out in its entirety and then starts to get assesed at fair market value. With current use, large parcels that are developed only come out of current use lot by lot. Instead of removing the whole piece from current use, the value of each individual lot is asses when determining the current use tax. Suppose you have a fifty acre piece of land assesed at 300k. If the whole thing were able to come out the current use penalty would be 10% of the assesed value which equals $30,000. Now take that same land and develop it into 10, five acre lots which has a value of $150,000/lot, and then see what the current use tax looks like. If based upon each indivudual lot. $150,000 x 10% = $15,000/lot. Then multiply $15,000 x 10 lots and you get a wopping $150,000.00 current use bill. So if you got land and don't want to use it for at least ten years consider a discretionary easment. Just rember once it goes in, it ain't coming out until it expires.