TOWN COUNCIL
JAMESTOWN, RHODE ISLAND

Proposed Land Bank Work Session

February 2, 1998

A work session of the Jamestown Town Council was called to order in the
conference room of the Jamestown Philomenian Library, 26 North Road, at
7:34 PM by Council President Craig A. Amerigian. The following members
were present:
David E. Dolce, Vice President
William H. Murphy
Fred F. Pease
Ellicott Wright

Also present were:
Maryanne Crawford, CPA, Interim Town Administrator/Finance Director
Theresa C. Donovan, CMC, Town Clerk
Senator M. Teresa Paiva-Weed
Betty Hubbard, Planning Commission Chair
Samuel Paterson, Harbor Master
Quentin Anthony, Esq., Town Solicitor

 (Representative George Levesque arrived at 8:29 PM.)

And panelists:
J. Christopher Powell, Jamestown Conservation Commission Chair
Lisa W. Bryer, Jamestown Town Planner
John Hubbard, President, Conanicut Island Land Trust
Robert Johnston, Ph.D., University of Rhode Island, Dept. of Resource
Economics
Mark Robinson, Executive Director, Compact for Cape Cod Conservation
Trusts

The following panelists made brief presentations to the audience of
approximately 80 attendees:

Mr. Powell described (using a slide presentation) what a land bank is, how
it would be created, the history of real estate sales in Jamestown, and
examples of how much revenue could be generated and how long it would
take.

Ms. Bryer, also using slides, stated that the 1990 Comprehensive Community
Plan goals included preservation of existing rural character, control
future growth for preservation, manage development, protect open spaces,
preserve farmland and encourage agricultural use and protect the water
supply; during the last decade, the focus has been on protection of the
watershed, farmland, salt marshes and land on Beavertail; 237 acres of
land have gone from vacant to residential between 1990 and 1997; total
vacant land has been reduced by 10.6% during that time; over 1,000 acres
are currently preserved under recreation or open space.

Mr. Hubbard stated the CILT's mission is identical: to preserve open space
in Jamestown; since 1984, CILT has been acquiring land and preservation
easements; about 1,000 of Jamestown's 6,000 total acres are permanently
protected; about another 1,000 are temporarily protected; our water supply
is limited to rainfall; CILT has been an alternative to a resource like a
land bank; we want to work with the Town to make the best possible
legislation.

Dr. Johnston stated that economic factors often favor the preservation of
open space, but only if all economic impacts of open space are considered;
developed residential land generates substantial tax revenue, but  that is
more than offset by the high cost of residential land to local communities
representing a net loss in almost all instances; tourism and recreation
benefit from open space preservation; increased residential use will
result in the water supply being affected either by availability or cost
to deliver; it goes to quality of life and balance.

Mr. Robinson stated that Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard (Massachusetts)
have land banks; Cape Cod (Massachusetts) attempted but did not achieve
legislation in the 1980s; 14 of 15 towns spent over $100 million at the
peak of the boom over 5 years to acquire over 5,000 acres of open space
for preservation but, during the following recession, there was no money
to buy anything, even though selling prices were significantly lower; a
land bank provides a steady stream of revenue for towns to plan
intelligently and purchase at appropriate times and use it to leverage
against other funds; municipalities are coping with the economic impact of
the residential boom and education reform act; local banks supported the
development of a land bank; legislation was introduced for a funding
source generated from sales of real estate with a 1% tax with $100,000
exemption and proportionate distribution to each community for acquisition
of open space and recreation areas; the legislature approved it, but the
governor vetoed it; the legislature overrode the veto and sent it to the
Cape Cod communities for a local vote; the Massachusetts Association of
Realtors opposed it because it is a tax on land transfers; they lobbied to
change it from the buyer paying the tax to the seller paying it, then
effectively lobbied against it and the voters defeated it; the idea of a
land bank was generally supported, but the method of funding it was not;
there was a 49% turnout, with a  55% to 45% defeat; Governor Cellucci
stated he is against any new burdens on homeowners.

The following individuals spoke in support of a land bank, with the
following comments: enhances property values; other communities have done
it successfully; more development will require another school and paid
fire department, which will result in a considerable impact on property
taxes; buyer should have to pay transfer fee to support preservation, or
pay increased property taxes later; property abutting land bank property
is more valuable; a land bank which is earning  interest is better than
paying interest on a bond issue:

Arthur C. Milot, 60 Walnut Street        Dorsey M. Beard, 1 Blueberry Lane
Christine W. Ariel, Esq., 61 Steamboat Street  Dennis H. Webster, 22 Mount
Hope Avenue
Robert A. Salk, MD, 605 Beavertail Road     Jean Comerford, 12 Green Lane

The following individuals spoke in opposition , with the following
comments: discriminatory tax; all tax payers should pay through bond issue
or tax base; decisions would be made by appointed, not elected board;
voters should be able to decide on each purchase of property at financial
town meeting:

Norman R. Beretta, 13 Walcott Avenue     Matthew F. Clarke, 23 Keel Avenue

The following individuals presented questions, answered by the panelists:

Gerald H. Cook, 56 Green Lane         Virginia R. Prichett, 340 East Shore
Road
Nancy Deleigal Wood, 16 Hamilton Avenue  Victor V. Calabretta, 11 America
Way
W. Randall Tyson, 229 Seaside Drive      Stephen H. Garnett, 36 Newport
Street
Richard H. Hutchinson, 4 Fort Wetherill Road   Kevin J. Carty, 103 Cole
Street
        Sam Howell, 110 Sachuest Way, Middletown, RI

Council President Amerigian: In 1997, 30% of Jamestown sales were $125,000
or less.
     Councilor Murphy: At a rate of 2%, the revenue would have been
$350,000 last year with a $100,000 exemption.
     Council President Amerigian: The equivalent would be about a 4%
increase on the tax rate ($.40). Council President Amerigian: A
conservation easement reduces the tax burden to the property owner, but if
the Town buys it outright, it becomes tax exempt.
     Dr. Johnston: Studies show that communities with the greatest amount
of open space have the lowest tax rates.
     Mr. Hubbard: Jamestown has preserved 17% of its overall property. Mr.
Robinson: Nantucket has preserved 41%; 1/3 of the Cape has been preserved,
1/3 developed with 1/3 yet to be determined. Mr. Hubbard: Whether or not
taxes are due upon death of a property owner can depend upon other assets
of the estate; it may be to family's benefit to donate the land.
     Mr. Anthony: Proposed legislation in 1986 exempted gifts and death;
it also provided for the establishment of a commission, subject to
approval of the Council, which would purchase and acquire real estate and
then only if the price does not exceed two independent appraisals.
     Council President Amerigian: The next step would be to discuss this
at the next Council meeting.
     Mr. Powell: We would like to introduce legislation in this session.
Sen. Paiva-Weed: That would start with a Town Council resolution, then
legislation enabling the placement of a question on a local ballot for
voter approval.
     Mr. Anthony: The legislation defines exactly how the money can be
spent; Jamestown's proposed legislation in 1986 set the rate at 2%, with
approval once at a financial town meeting.
     Mr. Robinson: Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket started at 2% and are
still at that rate, although increases have been sought.
     Mr. Powell: Little Compton is still at 2%; Block Island is at 2% and
seeking 3%; categories  of open space and farmland are identified in the
Council-approved Open Space and Recreation Plan, in which specific
properties are identified to be targeted; once acquired, deed restrictions
would control future use.
     Ms. Bryer: This is one vehicle for land preservation, which has been
very successful, but there are many ways to achieve the goal.
     Councilor Murphy: Borrowing $2 million for 20 years costs $3,100,000
overall; paying interest prevents us from preserving that much more
property.
     Mr. Powell: The Nature Conservancy and Champlin Foundation have
funded a lot of purchases in Jamestown, but more and more, agencies such
as these are requiring matching funds.
     Mr. Anthony: The legislation is designed to provide  that the
commission has bonding and borrowing power, but it cannot commit the full
faith and credit of the Town unless voters approve; the land bank cannot
buy property for a purpose other than for open space.

There being no further business before Council, the work session was
informally adjourned at 9:56 PM.

Attest:

Theresa C. Donovan, CMC
Town Clerk