July 22, 2024 Donate


Webster Township Completes Land Preservation Project

Community News

The Webster Township Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program recently closed on a conservation easement purchase from John and Jean Cares.

The property is just over 19 acres in size with frontage on the south side of Farrell Rd. and the east side of Zeeb Rd. It is comprised entirely of prime and locally important agricultural soils, The property adds to one of Webster Township’s large blocks of permanently protected land, which now exceeds 1,000 acres. 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 Cares purchased these two parcels from the estate of Marjorie Smyth, whose farm across the road was the first conserved by Webster Township in 2009. John and Jean promised the heirs that they would pursue land preservation on the parcels (which adjoin their home farm, conserved many years ago) with the intention of including the land in their crop operation. The Cares were able to close on the property in April of 2021, and shortly thereafter began the process of applying for a conservation easement. The field will grow crops in a rotation as modern farming permits, with concern for soils, water and the natural features of the property.

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 Webster Township’s dedicated land preservation millage, funding support was supplied by the City of Ann Arbor Greenbelt program and the federal Resource Conservation Partnership Program. The Cares also graciously discounted the purchase price so Webster’s share was just 10% of the appraised value.

Webster Township’s land preservation program is funded by a dedicated millage which voters passed initially in 2005 and renewed twice, all by large margins. The Township has attracted over $15 million of matching funds from other sources, a rate of over $5 to $1 of its own. With this project the Township program has been involved in protecting 2,748 acres, with more projects set to close in the coming months.