The Municipal Open Space Funding Option

Enabling a Local Option for Land Conservation, Stewardship Funding, Climate Resilience, and other Environmental Projects 

Photo Credit: George Massey

The problem:  Funding for open space acquisition and stewardship is more imperiled than ever. Difficult economic conditions at the state and local levels, coupled with a climate crisis requiring immediate action, underscore the need to provide Connecticut’s cities and towns with a sustainable source of revenue for land conservation and stewardship, and to address climate change at the local level that would not impact the municipal mill rate or require additional bonding. 

The solution: The Municipal Open Space Funding Option is proposed enabling legislation that would allow, but not require, towns and cities to establish a limited buyer’s conveyance fee program to fund projects including but not limited to land conservation and stewardship, farmland preservation, and the implementation of strategies to address climate change at the local level. 

2021 legislation:  HB 6441: AN ACT CONCERNING CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION

See Section 3 for enabling legislation for municipal buyer’s conveyance program.  

HB 6441 was introduced by request of the Governor pursuant to Joint Rule 9 to implement the Governor's budget recommendations.

Governor's Summary of An Act Concerning Climate Change Adaptation

HB 6441 Section 3 enables a local-option buyer’s conveyance fee. The proposal authorizes municipalities to adopt a buyer’s real estate conveyance fee. This dedicated fee could be used by municipalities to fund municipal land conservation, stewardship, climate mitigation, resilience and adaptation strategies, and other community environmental projects. The legislation is structured to ensure that the program does not undermine the development of affordable housing in the participating municipalities.

 

COMING SOON:  HB 6441 FAQ 

Benefits: This local, dedicated fund may be used to:

  • Purchase, preserve, and steward open space, forest, and farm lands. 

  • Implement climate resilience, mitigation or adaptation strategies.

  • Fulfill match requirements for state or federal grant programs.

  • Cover the costly expenses associated with acquiring land (appraisals, surveys, environmental assessments, etc.).

  • Repay existing or future municipal bonds used for conservation purposes. 

  • Help cover the costs of stewardship of a community’s open space properties, water resources, and farmland.

  • Fund environmental projects such as brownfields remediation, urban forestry, and tree planting. 

  • The Governor’s bill proposes a progressive fee system and seeks to address impacts on the development of affordable housing.

Nearby states (MA, NY, RI, PA, WV) have allowed some municipalities to enact a buyers' conveyance fee, with the income dedicated to conserving and caring for local natural areas. These programs have proven remarkably successful, resulting in the protection of thousands of acres of open space, forests, meadows, and farms. With your help we can provide Connecticut towns with an opportunity to replicate those successes in their own communities. 

Fast Facts: 

  • Nature-based solutions, including open spaces, forests, wetlands, soils, and farmland, play an essential role in addressing the impacts of climate change by absorbing greenhouse gases and offsetting the release of carbon emissions due to active development.

  • Open space and recreation generate $502 million in state and local tax revenue. 

  • When Eastern Long Island tested a local option for open space, it generated over $1.1 billion and protected more than 10,000 acres. 

For more information about HB 6441 please contact CLCC's Executive Director, Amy Blaymore Paterson at abpaterson@ctconservation.org or at 860-614-8537.

To learn more about the Municipal Open Space Funding Option in other states, see the links below:

Call to Action (homepage): 
Call to action