Friday, January 31, 2014
The Legare family announced today that Lowcountry Open Land Trust was withdrawing their application for funds through the Charleston Greenbelt Bank to place an easement on the Johns Island farm. The Legare family would like to thank the members of Charleston County Council and the people of the Lowcountry who supported them in their recent quest to place a conservation easement on their farm. Though the Lowcountry Open Land Trust board has decided to withdraw its application, the Legare family intends to pursue all of its options in an effort to maintain its property in family ownership and continue the farm and event-based activities for which Legare Farms is known. The Legare family pursued the easement for two reasons. The first was to acquire the money to pay off debts that were incurred while taking care of their mother during her final illness. The second reason was to protect the farm for future generations. This would benefit not only the Legare family but other residents of the Lowcountry by retaining more open space and cutting down on the development of Johns Island.
In 2004 Charleston County residents voted to adopt a half-cent sales tax which would allow funding to preserve open spaces. Part of this money was to be used to buy conservation easements on private land. Charleston County voters approved this plan and over 50 easements have already been acquired using this public money. Despite this fact, some County Council members are opposed to spending any more of this money (that has already been designated for this use) on private conservation easements. Others are opposed to the Legare family receiving this money for political reasons. Despite this opposition and a number of unpleasant attacks on family members, the Legare family is committed to protecting this land and will proceed through other sources.
The Lowcountry Open Land Trust is an outstanding organization and has done a wonderful job of preserving many acres of Lowcountry land. The Legare family thanks them for the many efforts of its staff, board and supporters in this process, and wishes them well in pursuing other conservation easements and acquisitions on Johns Island and elsewhere in the Lowcountry. The Legares hope that their experience will not discourage other landowners from pursuing easements on their property.