The Dutchess County Open Space Petition sign now

Do you think that Dutchess County voters should be allowed the opportunity to vote on a referendum for increased funding for farmland and open space protection to protect our area's beauty and hold the line on property taxes skyrocketing from sprawl-- with the money to come from a countywide .75\% real estate transfer tax surcharge on sales of properties over $500,000?

The concept of a local real estate transfer tax a valuable tool for communities to consider to protect farmland and open space from development has been endorsed by the following members of the statewide Community Preservation Act Coalition: Scenic Hudson, Dutchess Land Conservancy, New York Farm Bureau, American Farmland Trust, New York League of Conservation Voters, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Environmental Advocates of New York, Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Preservation League of NYS, Land Trust Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Audubon New York, Environmental Defense, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, New York State Association of Towns, and dozens of other organizations across New York (see

A recent study conducted in Red Hook by that town's Open Space and Agricultural Committee Chair Robert McKeon found that ultimately it's actually twenty times cheaper to invest with a bit of funding up front to protect farmland and open space from development than it is to do nothing and watch local property taxes skyrocket further from residential sprawl out of control (justifiably, McKeon repeated this number over and over again during his presentations at forums in Clinton organized by County Legislator Joel Tyner in the fall of 2003); more proof of this below.

Cost of Community Services studies have been done here in our county on Amenia, Beekman, Fishkill, North East, and Red Hook proving that investment in farmland/open space protection is much less expensive than allowing local communities to "build out" with residential sprawl (see

Note-- this effort does not mean other worthwhile local efforts for bond referendums for farmland/open space protection similar to those recently passed in Red Hook and Beekman should not be pursued; as stated above, it's just a little something extra our county government can do to help on the most important issue our communities face.

Help make give our county's voters a chance to vote on this-- sign on to this petition, pass it along to those you know, and send a message on this to [email protected]

Joel Tyner
County Legislator
324 Browns Pond Road
Staatsburg, NY 12580
[email protected]
(845) 876-2488

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From North Carolina's Million Acre Initiative...

Open space saves tax money.

Studies across the country consistently show that the tax expenditure/income generation relationship of open space is more favorable than that for residential development. Residential development often costs more in services than it provides in tax base. Two recent North Carolina studies confirm these results:

"The Fiscal Impact of Alternative Land Uses in Macon County," "The Costs of Community Services in Wake County,"

In addition, studies by the US Department of Commerce show that open spaces forests, wetlands and farmlands save local tax money and protect drinking water, contrary to a long-standing misconception that undeveloped land is not economically productive.

Open space makes little, if any, demand on municipal services such as school systems, police and fire departments, and water and septic/sewer services. A typical residence, on the other hand, may require municipal services costing more than the amount it pays in local taxes.

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"A transfer tax of 2\% ($2,000 on every $100,000 of sales value) would have raised about $10 million for towns in Columbia County last year alone, according to data supplied by the County Clerks Office. Leveraging the towns contribution with matching funds from state, federal and private sources could have raised the total amount of funds available to more than $25 million.

In the northern Dutchess town of North East, the tax would have raised some $350,000 last year, enough to attract substantial matching funds and demonstrate a strong political commitment to addressing voters demands."

From "A Promising Pledge for the Campaign Season" from Little Town Views [10/13/05]

More here from this article:

"As election campaigns kick off this month for some 100 open town board seats in our region, most candidates agree that preserving farmland and providing affordable housing are among the issues foremost on voters minds, but few, if any, have offered specific proposals to finance these popular though costly initiatives.

There is, however, an effective, fair and timely policy that could raise tens of millions of dollars each year to support land conservation and expand home ownership in Columbia and northern Dutchess counties. The real estate transfer tax, a small levy on all property sales in a town that is reserved to fund housing and preservation efforts, has been a surefire campaign pledge and a successful catalyst for community improvement in many states and a handful of New York towns.

The transfer tax, once approved by town voters in a special referendum, can quickly fortify a towns planning objectives by providing an annual source of funds to purchase development rights on farmland and finance programs that make home ownership more affordable. Though authorization from our state government is required to hold the referendum and enact the tax, senior legislators in Albany have said they would support requests from individual towns seeking to launch a transfer tax referendum.

As part of a political platform, the tax has popular advantages: 1) it shifts most of the financial burden to the housing developers and high-end property sellers who are reaping the greatest profits from the current real estate boom; 2) it can exempt the sale of lower-priced homes, say below $200,000, from the tax entirely; 3) it gives local voters the final say in drafting the details of the law; and 4) it can raise significant amounts of money that often attract even larger matching funds from other public and private sources.

As a starting point for widespread adoption of the tax, candidates should pledge to voters that, if elected, they will press their town board to request state permission for a transfer tax referendum.

It is definitely among the options the Ghent Town Board should be pursuing, said John Mesevage, Democratic candidate for a board seat in the Columbia County town of Ghent.

Its a very interesting idea to talk through on the board, echoed Bonnie Hundt, who is running for an open seat on the Amenia Town Board in northern Dutchess County.

Many farming advocates fear that state legislators, buckling under pressure from the homebuilding and real estate industries, will reject towns requests to craft and implement their own transfer tax laws. Indeed, the Republican-controlled State Senate this summer killed a bill, passed by the Democratic majority in the Assembly and supported by Governor Pataki, that would grant blanket authorization to any municipality seeking to enact a transfer tax earmarked for land preservation.

But top Republican lawmakers, even those skeptical of the statewide authorization bill, seem willing to secure state approval for individual towns requesting home rule laws such as the transfer tax.

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"Credit for Land Tax"
[East Hampton Star editorial 1/10/07]

If the real estate people around here are right, prices for land and houses are about to return to an upward spiral. While there may be rejoicing among some at this prediction, it darkens the prospects of first-time homebuyers and others for whom the bottom of the market is all but out of reach. Surviving a real estate closing is tough enough anywhere, but in the five East End towns, buyers usually have to cut one extra check, to the Community Preservation Fund, which imposes a 2-percent tax on most deals.

Dont get us wrong. The transfer tax has been a godsend and we urged its extension until 2030 in a voter referendum in November. It kicks in after $250,000 for developed property, $100,000 on vacant land. In the past there have been calls to raise the exemption to a more realistic level.

Bill Gardiner, the East Hampton Town Republican Party chairman, has suggested it be set as high as $850,000. At least one analysis has shown that the fund would lose ground, so to speak, if that were the case.

Instead of raising the exemption threshold, a state tax credit might be created. This would allow buyers of property at the lower end of the market to take an income tax deduction, reducing the impact of the preservation fund on their financial well-being. It is hard enough to buy a house here; any little bit of help the towns or Albany can offer would be welcome.

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From ...

State Community Preservation Act Stalls Again This Year, But Red Hook Gains Authority
In June, the Community Preservation Actlegislation that would enable towns to enact up to a 2 percent real estate transfer tax to fund local farmland and open space protectionpassed the New York Assembly but failed to pass the Senate. However, legislation was passed in both houses extending this authority to the town of Red Hook in Dutchess County. The town of Warwick in Orange County received this authority from the state legislature last year. For more information about the Community Preservation Act.

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"Real Estate Transfer Tax: Yes"
[Times Herald-Record editorial 11/3/06]

Warwick officials have been working for years to make sure the growth that comes to their popular southern Orange County town does not overwhelm all the things that make it so attractive to home buyers.

This year, town residents are being asked to approve a new tool in that campaign: a real estate transfer tax. Money from the tax would go to the town's program that buys development rights from landowners, enabling them to preserve the land rather than sell it to developers. The town has preserved 2,300 acres of farmland with the PDR program.

The tax would add .75 percent to the purchase price. On homes, the first $100,000 would be exempt; on land, the first $50,000. This is a negligible added cost on real estate that is already expensive, but it would help preserve the character of the town that attracted the new home buyer.

Critics say the added cost will drive home buyers elsewhere, but towns on Long Island that have had a transfer tax for years report no shortage of new homeowners or open space.

Vote yes.

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Cities and towns across the state are facing mounting pressure from development. As proposals for subdivisions, strip malls, and commercial office parks come forward, local officials must carefully balance the potential of economic growth with the need to preserve the character of their communities and the quality of their drinking water.

The Community Preservation Act:
Local Heritage, Local Resources, Local Control
The Community Preservation Act (CPA) gives municipalities the power to voluntarily create a Community Preservation Fund to preserve natural areas and water resources, working farms, and historic structures and heritage.

Local Benefits
Funds created in East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton, and Southold have generated more than $300 million for the preservation of natural areas, working farms, and historic structures. Without these funds, many of the places that make these communities unique would have been lost to development.

Currently, municipalities must seek the permission of the Governor and the State Legislature before establishing a fund. In a state whose constitution is predicated on home rule, it makes sense that New Yorkers decide for themselves how best to protect their heritage.

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From ...

Ohio State University Fact Sheet

Community Development

700 Ackerman Road, Columbus, OH 43202-1578

Costs of Community Services


Land Use Series

Allen M. Prindle
Thomas W. Blaine

The term, costs of community services (COCS), usually refers to a growing body of literature which focuses upon how various types of land use affect local government taxation and spending. This body of literature generally summarizes studies that use fiscal impact analysis as their primary method of determining whether various forms of land use contribute to or detract from local government budgets.

During the period immediately following World War II, many communities sought to attract business, industrial, and residential growth for a number of reasons. Among these was that economic growth would raise the property tax base and generate increased revenues for local infrastructure, including schools, roads, and fire/police protection. During the 1980s however, many skeptics began to question whether economic development in rural areas "paid its own way" in terms of local taxation. When farmland, open space and woodlands are converted to residential development, for example, local tax revenues increase substantially, since property values increase. But the local government and school district are also required to provide added services to the new residents. Does the increased revenue balance the increased demand for services? That is the question the COCS studies set out to answer.

The COCS Ratio

It has become conventional in COCS studies to divide land use into three categories: residential, commercial/industrial, and farmland/open space. One of the most common procedures used is the calculation of a COCS ratio for each land use category. The ratio compares how many dollars worth of local government services are demanded per dollar collected. A ratio greater than 1.0 suggests that for every dollar of revenue collected from a given category of land, more than one dollar is spent in association with it.

Many of the early studies providing estimates of COCS ratios were either sponsored or conducted by the American Farmland Trust. But in recent years a great number of other researchers from a variety of backgrounds have undertaken such studies. The results seem to corroborate each other. Virtually all of the studies show that for residential land, the COCS ratio is substantially above 1. That is, residential land is a net drain on local government budgets. The average estimate ranges from about 1.15 to 1.50, which means that for every dollar collected in taxes and non-tax revenue, between $1.15 and $1.50 gets returned in the form of services by the local government and school district.

On the other hand, the COCS ratios for the other two land use categories are both substantially below 1. For commercial/industrial, the ratio usually ranges from 0.35 to 0.65, indicating that for every dollar collected, only about 35 to 65 cents worth of services are provided by the local government. For agriculture and open space, the ratios are only slightly smaller, usually ranging from 0.30 to 0.50.

The largest single expenditure category for communities, according to the studies, is the public school system, accounting for 60 to 70 percent of spending. Since open space and commercial development in themselves do not place any burden on the schools, it should not be surprising that their ratios are less than the residential category...

Two things emerge when reflecting on the COCS issue. The first is that residential development in any area invariably leads to increased per capita demand for publicly provided services, placing increased burdens on local infrastructure and public agencies. As a result, increases in local tax rates to provide additional services tend to follow growth. Second is that members of each community should ask themselves the broader question, "How do we manage growth in our community, along with all of the impacts (both positive and negative) that it brings?"


"Lawmakers, Conservationists & Farmers Announce Open Space Legislation; Senator Marcellino, Assemblymember DiNapoli to Sponsor Community Preservation Act"
[see ]

(Albany, NY) Proposed legislation in Albany would give New York towns a new and potentially powerful tool to preserve land and community character. Known as the Community Preservation Act (CPA), the law would authorize towns in New York State to adopt, after a local referendum, a real estate transfer fee of up to 2 percent for the purpose of establishing a community preservation fund.

First introduced in the Assembly in 2004, the bill enjoys bipartisan support and majority sponsorship in both houses. The Governor recently announced his support for the policy, which is also supported by a growing coalition of over 50 conservation, farm and municipal organizations, including the New York Farm Bureau and the New York Association of Towns.

As our states supply of open space continues to erode, communities across New York are exploring a wide range of creative ideas to conserve and enhance their natural resources, said Sen. Carl Marcellino, a prime sponsor of the bill. The five towns at the east end of Long Island have created a successful program to develop a community preservation fund. The collected resources are used to protect drinking water, conserve parkland, safeguard habitats or help halt the endless sprawl into pristine, green locations. Our legislation will allow communities across New York to establish their own voter approved community preservation funds to create a local balance between development and preservation.

New Yorks open space and agricultural lands are being lost to development at an alarming rate, said lead Assembly sponsor Tom DiNapoli. The five towns at the east end of Long Island have realized great success with the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Funds, and this bill would give other communities across New York State the same opportunity to establish a community preservation fund to be used for land conservation.

This proposal gives a new, voluntary tool to New York towns to help protect working farms, historic buildings, and open space for future generations, said Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, Chair of the Assembly Local Governments Committee. This is a much-needed tool for towns struggling with rapid growth, and is an appropriate approach for a home rule state.

G. Jeffrey Haber, executive director of the New York Association of Towns, stated, "This legislation will provide to all towns the same local option employed successfully by the five towns of eastern Long Island. It would enable any town who so chooses to pass a local law, subject to mandatory referenda, establishing an alternative mechanism to fund important, identified planning objectives in their respective towns."

Preservation of farmland is critical in order to maintain the agricultural character of New York State, said New York Farm Bureau director and Washington County dairy farmer, Andrew Jock Williamson. A working agricultural landscape not only conserves open space, but keeps family farms in business many times in regions that are rapidly losing the battle of suburban sprawl. Affording local governments the ability to create a mechanism to fund farmland preservation projects is greatly needed for the agricultural industry and the communities that rely upon them.

Many New York towns are searching for new tools to manage sprawl, protect open space and preserve the historic character of our communities and neighborhoods, said Anne Reynolds of Environmental Advocates of New York. The Community Preservation Act takes an idea that is working in one part of the state and creates the opportunity for towns across New York to be a part of this innovative approach. And the decision about whether or not to be a part of the program is entirely up to local voters.

This proposal is supported by a growing and diverse coalition, and it addresses the fact that the Environmental Protection Fund is oversubscribed for open space and farmland protection grant programs. New York State reportedly loses an average of 174 acres each day to development. During a recent three-year period the population of the New York City metropolitan area grew 13 percent while the urbanized area increased 60 percent. Last fall, a Brookings Institute/Cornell University study, Sprawl Without Growth: the Upstate Paradox, looked at upstate growth patterns for the 15-year period between 1982 and 1997. It reports that the amount of urbanized land increased 30 percent, while the population grew just 2.6 percent. Even in Central New York, where the population actually declined, over 100,000 new acres were developed. The quality-of-life impacts are dire: lost farmland, more vehicle miles traveled, urban centers left to decay.

Land protection is critical to the future of areas where urban sprawl has engulfed 90 percent of open space increasing traffic and taxes and threatening drinking water. A community preservation program would empower local governments to buy the lands they need to create a healthy, sustainable place for today and for the future. Today, especially as the federal government considers severely limiting tax advantages to those who conserve their land, a community preservation fund may be our best and only hope, said Lisa Ott, executive director of the North Shore Land Alliance on Long Island.

While we have seen dramatic increases in state, federal and private funding for farmland protection in recent years as well as from some counties and towns, the demand for farmland protection dollars far exceeds the available funds. In fact this year in New York State, there was $86 million in grant requests, but only $12.6 million dollars in funding, said Jerry Cosgrove, northeast director, American Farmland Trust.

Poll after poll shows that New Yorkers want their drinking water supplies protected. This legislation, by making funds available for localities to protect watershed lands within their boundaries, will help safeguard the downstate drinking water supply, which relies on unfiltered water from Catskill, Delaware and Croton watershed reservoirs. Watershed areas around the state will benefit from this farsighted legislation, which gives localities the choice and the power to protect ecosystems in their communities, said Eric A. Goldstein, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The Hudson Valley is at a crossroads, and the next five years will determine whether we see our farms and open space protected or overrun by suburban sprawl development, said Steve Rosenberg, executive director of the Scenic Hudson Land Trust. This timely legislation will greatly augment the ability of municipalities and counties to preserve threatened open space.

The loss, degradation, and fragmentation of open spaces, farmland, and habitats that occur from poorly planned development are a leading threat to many bird species and Audubon Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in New York, said David J. Miller, executive director of Audubon New York. Many communities are exploring the different options available for conserving and protecting open space, but need increased resources to achieve their goals. Thanks to Assemblyman DiNapoli, Senator Marcellino, and Governor Pataki, the Community Preservation Act will provide cash-strapped communities with another useful tool to enhance open space preservation on the local level.

The Community Preservation Act is good public policy. Skyrocketing real-estate prices in many regions over the last three years have enticed many property owners to cash in on vacant land they own, said Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club. The value of undeveloped land in the Adirondack Park has doubled since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, enticing owners to sell.

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Latest Signatures

  • 19 February 201550. Joseph C
    We need to be as proactive as we possibly can. Address; Zip Code 73 Astor Drive Rhinebeck, NY 12572
  • 14 September 201449. James Lb
    The county needs to take more action to fund and preserve open space. Address; Zip Code 29 Colburn Dr. Poughkeepsie NY 12603
  • 03 June 201448. Charles H
    If we don't act soon to preserve what is left of rural Dutchess, there will be nothing to preserve. Address; Zip Code 5 October Circle Lagrangeville NY 12540
  • 22 October 201347. Bsweet Goodman
    Please sign now Address; Zip Code 12538
  • 01 May 201346. Roz A
    none Address; Zip Code 57 livingston st, rhinebeck, ny 12572
  • 01 April 201345. Ilana P
    Let's do all we can to preserve the few remaining rural aspects of this county Address; Zip Code 29 elm dr, millbrook, 12545
  • 05 July 201244. Andrew Gl
    This seems to be a practical plan to preserve open space and check runaway development and tax increase. Address; Zip Code 948 S Anson Rd., Stanfordville NY 12581
  • 18 April 201243. Herbert S
    Open Space is not just for the enjoyment of the residents of the area and for the tourist industry. It is one of the components of 'quality of life' that attracts new business to the area. Address; Zip Code 12538
  • 11 April 201242. Joe C
    save family farms Address; Zip Code 11 kristi lane poughkeepsie new york 12601
  • 18 March 201241. Frances S
    Anything to save the land is worth the effort. Address; Zip Code 4 James Street Rhinecliff, NY 12574
  • 18 November 201140. Gerrit G
    Open land is both a finite commodity and an essential component in the area's tourist appeal and ecological health. Once it's gone, it's gone, and the tourist dollars and ecosystem with it -- no going back. Address; Zip Code Rhinebeck, NY 12572
  • 13 September 201139. James Hm
    I agree Address; Zip Code 86 Marple Rd Ext , Poughkeepsie,NY 12603
  • 21 November 201038. Gary K
    Open space is a necessity Address; Zip Code 16 Bain Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
  • 16 October 201037. Brian K
    We need the CPA. Address; Zip Code 7 Margaret Dr. Hopewell Junction, NY 12533
  • 31 May 201036. Margaret C
    I feel the State should pass the CPA to allow all municipalities to raise funds locally for the preservation of open space and historic sructures. We need to use all means possible to raise money for this purpose. A County Transfer Tax will help in this e
  • 04 March 201035. Alice W
    We need to preserve what makes this area so beautiful Address; Zip Code Rhinebeck
  • 19 November 200934. Douglas M
    I support this petition
  • 20 October 200933. Carolann K
    Enough sprawl - we need to preserve farmland & open spaces. Address; Zip Code 12603
  • 20 July 200932. Cynthia Owenp
    I haave seen the local real estate transfer tax work well in Maryland as well as in Red Hook and strongly endorse it. Address; Zip Code 35 Russell Avenue, Rhineciff N.Y. 2574 (P.O. Box 28)
  • 16 April 200931. James Wc
    Let the people decide Address; Zip Code 18 Platt Ave 12572
  • 28 March 200930. Hester Ew
    This is long overdue. Address; Zip Code 11 Breeze Hill, Millbrook, NY 12545
  • 25 March 200929. Reginasophia S
    When I think of our future and how will we produce our food, the local farms and gardens need our most protection and support. Address; Zip Code Lasher Rd. Tivoli NY 12583
  • 02 February 200928. Allison H
    I support the initiatives in the Community Preservation Act/Fund. Preserving our open space is crucial to our communities in Dutchess County. Address; Zip Code 12571
  • 05 January 200927. John S
    Real estate transfer fees where they have been tried have netted positive for all concerned--please support community preservation! Address; Zip Code 117 Barrytown Rd NY12507
  • 14 June 200826. Rohan P
    It is in the best interest for our county to take this step towards the preservation of our farmland and rural heritage. Address; Zip Code 21 Fruitbud Dr. Red Hook, NY 12571-2117
  • 20 April 200825. Stephen C
    This idea is truly a good one if we are to save and preseve what liitle open space that is left in the county. A local law in each municipality would help as well. Hats off to Red hook for being the first to take the necessary measures to preseve our qual
  • 07 February 200824. Robert Bw
    What constituents in Dutchess want their tax dollars used for - preserve what we have that is so special. Address; Zip Code Po Box 592, Millbrook, NY 12545

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Earlene RojasBy:
Technology and the InternetIn:
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