Conservation Easement Language and Inspections

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Wise Preservation Planning LLC
      1480 Hilltop Road
      Chester Springs PA 19425
      Phone (484) 202-8187
 

Wise Preservation Planning LLC is a full-service historic preservation planning firm. We research, document, analyze and ultimately help protect historic resources and our cultural landscape. Our firm serves a variety of clients, including municipalities, engineers, architects, historical societies, and owners of historic resources.

The firm was founded in 1997 by Robert J. Wise Jr., who has 20 years of experience in the historic preservation field. He is assisted by Seth Hinshaw, Senior Planner, who has been with the firm since 2001. Both planners have M.S. degrees in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and exceed the 36 CFR 61 Professional Qualification Standards established by the National Park Service for architectural historians.

Overview

Conservation easements are legal documents that place a restrictive covenant on historic properties, often in exchange for tax considerations. Owners may choose to forego any alteration to the existing buildings and/or landscape, or they may choose to set aside portions of the property for future additions to their historic house and/or for building sites. Most easements call for annual inspections of the property to ensure compliance with the easement language.
 
Wise Preservation Planning LLC works with landowners and conservation organizations to draft façade conservation easements which protect historic resources. This is particularly applicable when a property undergoing subdivision or development has a historic resource that warrants protection. Many municipal historic preservation ordinances allow the developer to add a building unit if a pre-existing historic resource is retained. Wise has developed restrictive covenant language to be used during the development process – usually through Conditional Use – that protects the historic qualities of a particular resource while allowing adaptive reuse of the resource.
 
Wise is also retained by such organizations as the Brandywine Conservancy to provide regular inspection services. To provide Best Management Practices (BMP), Wise developed a comprehensive building inspection form that forces the inspector (and owner) to examine all construction elements outlined in the easement language. Since 2003, Wise has assisted the Brandywine Conservancy, Inc. in its annual inspections of properties with historic resources protected by easement language. In 2003, Wise completed Baseline Inspection Documents that have been used in subsequent inspections to evaluate the condition of the property over time; these baseline documents include a detailed site plan showing building campaigns, a detailed physical description, and photography of each elevation of regulated historic resources. Maintenance recommendations and visible building failure issues were also addressed at that time. Subsequent annual inspections have included photography and analysis of how property owners have addressed maintenance needs identified in earlier years. In addition to easements held by the Brandywine Conservancy, Wise inspects resources under restrictive covenants administered by municipalities.