How the Process Works
The Township may acquire land – or the use of land for Open Space – in any of several ways: purchase for cash at appraisal value, donation, or leased use. First, the property owner must demonstrate an interest in selling for Open Space. Then, the Township may exhibit an interest in purchasing the land. Once both sides have expressed their interest, the Township hires an independent appraiser – at its own expense – to determine the fair market value of the land.
This, then, becomes the basis for continued discussion for a potential sale; the Committee follows a purchase procedure that is fair to the seller. The sale or donation does not have to involve the entire property. If larger tracts are involved, the land may be subdivided and only a portion involved in the transaction with the Township.
Why Sell or Donate Land to the Township
There are a number of potential benefits to anyone who sells or donates land to the Township for Open Space. Benefits may include estate, capital gains, income, or property tax relief, depending on the manner in which the Township receives the land.
For example, donations could produce a charitable contribution deduction, in addition to eliminating taxes on any appreciation in value from the original acquisition price of the donor. Donating land through a will should exempt the land from being included in the taxable estate of the decedent. Sale by the owner to the Township could produce lower, more favorable income tax costs if the property has appreciated in value while owned by the seller and held for a sufficient length of time from acquisition.
The seller or donor should discuss these with a tax advisor to determine what benefits are available and the extent of those benefits. A land owner can receive cash or a charitable deduction for property at current appraisal value or income from the sale of development rights while maintaining ownership. It is often possible to maintain the owner’s name on the site.
A Lasting Contribution
Those who donate or sell land to the Township also have the opportunity to make a lasting contribution to their community, preserving green spaces for current and future Livingston residents to enjoy.
Should you have any questions or an interest in discussing your property, contact Open Space Committee Chairperson Art Altman.