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Summit County property owners can apply to sell land for use as open space

Open Space Advisory Committee to evaluate properties that could be acquired with $50 million bond funds

Summit County property owners interested in having their land evaluated by the Open Space Advisory Committee and possibly acquired using funds from the $50 million open space bond passed by voters last November can now apply. Visit summitcounty.org/publiclands for more information.
Courtesy of Summit County | Bailey Edelstein

The next phase in the rollout of a $50 million General Obligation bond to protect open space is underway – and property owners are encouraged to participate. 

Summit County voters overwhelmingly supported the conservation effort last November, leading to the creation of the Open Space Advisory Committee earlier this year. Now, after months of work, the panel is opening applications to people who own land in the county and want to have their property assessed for preservation. Those qualified will be acquired for open space, agricultural protection areas or conservation easements.

“The OSAC members have worked very hard to perfect the Notice of Intent process, the evaluation criteria, and scoring matrix,” Summit County Public Lands Manager Jess Kirby said in a prepared statement. “While the process has taken almost a year to complete, it was a necessary exercise in order to capture the countywide public interest that will be needed to implement these open space funds.”



Landowners can submit a Notice of Intent online, which then alerts the advisory committee and county manager of the person’s interest and kicks off the evaluation process. OSAC is a nine-member central committee made up of three members from each regional advisory group representing North and South Summit as well as the West Side. 

Each group has seven members who were tasked with developing the criteria for how land should be assessed for use as open space in their respective areas. The central committee will use those guidelines to provide recommendations to the county manager on how the open space bonds should be used.



The county typically focuses on acquiring properties that: preserve rural areas and provide community buffers such as significant agricultural land, can be used for passive recreation including public access and potential trail connections, reduce developmental density or provide growth limitations, and have significant natural resources like scenic view corridors, wetlands and wildlife habitats 

The land will either be purchased from the landowner or the individual may opt to donate the property. Partial donations will also be considered. If the land is sold voluntarily, the property owner forfeits all rights to the county. The property owners also could obtain a conservation easement that restricts how the land can be used, but it remains under private ownership.

The Summit County Council created OSAC as a way to ensure county residents felt represented in how the GO Bond will be spent after they supported the land-preserving measure. Officials also plan to partner with land trusts. They expect the application process will remain ongoing until all bond funds have been distributed.


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