Amendment 4, passed by Florida voters last Nov. 4 with a whopping 67 percent of the vote, makes conserving private land a lot more affordable for Florida land owners. The amendment’s two-prong approach to tax relief for land owners is one Preston Robertson (JD 90), vice president for conservation and general counsel of the Florida Wildlife Federation, came up with after considering similar models in Georgia and other states.
“In Florida, at least until Amendment 4 passed, there was absolutely no financial benefit to a land owner to perpetually encumber their property with a conservation easement,” Robertson said. “It seemed to me that it would be nice to provide people who want to voluntarily protect their land some benefit to inspire them to do so, and that’s Amendment 4.”
The first clause of the amendment removes all tax assessments from property under a conservation easement. The second clause provides for a “conservation use” assessment for qualifying properties similar to the greenbelt assessment agricultural lands already enjoy. Enabling legislation for the amendment was hammered out during the recently adjourned legislative session, and the amendment’s tax benefits are set to take effect Jan. 1, 2010. For the full story, visit www.law.ufl.edu/uflaw.