Dexter Twp Completes First Land Preservation Project

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The Dexter Township Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program recently closed its first project, a conservation easement purchase on the Monier-Van Gorder property.

The property is just over 70 acres in size and borders the popular 275-acre Washtenaw County West Lake Preserve on its west side, with almost 2,000 feet of common boundary. It is comprised almost entirely of prime and locally important agricultural soils, along with 10 acres of woods and four acres of wetlands. The conservation easement ensures that the land will never be developed but it remains in private ownership and is not open to the public.

The grantors’ father grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and moved to Detroit to start a family. In 1963, he decided to purchase the property on Island Lake Rd. because of his longing for the country. He moved his family to a property adjacent to the 70 acres in 1970. The land has always been leased to a local farmer to grow crops for livestock (field corn and soybeans). The Monier/VanGorder heirs want to keep the rural charm of the 70 acres forever.

Conservation easements are permanent deed restrictions on the use of a property. Purchasing easements costs less than buying the property, and keeps the property on the tax rolls and contributing to the local economy.

In addition to Dexter Township’s dedicated land preservation millage, funding support was supplied by the Washtenaw County Natural Area Preservation Program, the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and the State of Michigan Agricultural Preservation Fund. Dexter Township’s share was 5.5% of the appraised value purchase price.

Dexter Township’s land preservation program is funded by a dedicated millage which voters passed in November, 2022 with 63% in support. The Township welcomes applications from landowners at any time. More projects are in process and will close in 2024.

Photos courtesy of Barry Lonik

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