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Preservation of local scenic resources is going to depend on the will of the citizens of Hanover, and of their elected and appointed officials, to act in a timely and effective manner, utilizing a wide range of options to achieve the common goals. Many actions entail policy, planning and/or regulatory changes, some of which are listed in "Recommendations for Municipal Action." Other actions can be taken by citizens, institutions or businesses. Many require funding.
Scenic protection is typically funded from both public and private sources. Municipal commitment to funding often stimulates individuals, institutions and businesses to participate in similar investment. State and federal initiatives frequently require a municipal match. Occasionally a private foundation will underwrite some or all of the cost of land acquisition that meets rigorous application standards. The Scenic Locales Committee recommends that the town actively research foundation opportunities for funding scenic, trail and related projects, and utilize opportunities offered by state and federal programs.
In Hanover the existing Land Acquisition Fund receives a portion of the proceeds accrued from taxes paid when landowners remove property from the state's Current Use Program. In recent years the Select Board has estimated the amount it believes will be received in tax each year, absorbs that amount into the general budget, and places the excess, if any, into the Land Acquisition Fund, which can be used for land purchase or Capital Improvements. On June 30, 1997, the balance in the Land Acquisition Fund was $269,604.
The Scenic Locales Committee recommends
- that all Current Land Use Change tax money be placed in the Land Acquisition Fund, and that the fund be dedicated solely to land acquisition
- that the town establish the authority and make necessary procedural changes so it can act expeditiously if and when an important land acquisition opportunity arises and
- that the town appoint a citizen group to examine the option of instituting a new tax to raise more money for land acquisition and related activities such as development, acquisition and monitoring of easements. Many states, counties and towns in the United States have voted to tax themselves by bond issues, gasoline tax, real estate transfer tax or other methods. (See Appendix C for a partial list.)
An additional reason to bolster town commitment to funding now is the land protection program currently under development by the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Commission, scheduled to be introduced in the Legislature during its next session. The plan may share some characteristics of the state's former Land Conservation Investment Program (LCIP), through which Hanover purchased the development rights on Fullington Farm on Lyme Road almost a decade ago. As in LCIP, the new program is likely to require matching funds for municipal projects, and thus will offer the opportunity to significantly stretch funds available through municipal sources.
The Hanover Conservation Commission controls a Land Maintenance Fund for forestry-related activities. This fund should be used, in part, for maintenance and improvement of scenic locales. Examples of use are clearing to maintain views, and minimum but necessary signage for trails. On June 30, 1997 the balance in the Land Maintenance Fund was $18,702.
As previously stated, municipal action and public funding are not the only means available for protection of the local landscape, specific sites and/or a landowner's favorite property. Many choices are available, all of which can be adapted to suit individual preferences, and all of which can offer significant benefits to the landowner. (See "Options for Private, Business and Institutional Action", above. See also Appendix C, and the Scenic Locales materials on file in the Planning Library in the Municipal Building.) The Upper Valley Land Trust, on Buck Road in Hanover, offers nationally-recognized expertise in helping people conserve land, including development of easements, advice on donations, assistance with estate planning and other landscape-preservation techniques for landowners.