A long-time trespasser may gain ownership of land by using it with no documented challenge for 21 years. Landowners can avoid this threat with some good, basic practices.
A review of Pennsylvania judicial decisions reveals that conservation easement holders and the conservation values they uphold prevail when a dispute leads to litigation. Courts respect the text of easement documents and their conservation purposes. This guide reviews eleven cases where the interpretation or enforcement of a conservation easement was at the center of litigation. 11 pages
This guide provides a basic review of the eminent domain law of Pennsylvania and the United States as it applies to conserved land and conservation easements. An 8-page guide.
This set of model documents and accompanying commentary helps local governments to formally dedicate lands to public purposes and clarify what are and aren’t appropriate uses of the land. (The materials include an option to grant a conservation easement to a qualified holder as added protection for the land.)
The Model Permission for Encroachment is a license agreement that allows an encroachment to continue until the owner withdraws permission. The model document also features owner protections from claims pertaining to injury or property damage, a requirement that the encroacher comply with the law, and the termination of any rights the encroacher may have to claim adverse possession.
Parks and other public open spaces deliver tremendous benefits to the public and provide a crucial foundation for building, maintaining, and renewing communities. People rely on the permanence of these civic assets in making decisions on where to live and work. Thus, it is no wonder that Pennsylvania law affords great protections to parks from sale or conversion to non-public uses by the municipal governments responsible for their care. This guide describes these protections in brief. [3-page WeConservePA guide]
What should you do if a neighboring landowner encroaches on your organization’s property (e.g., builds a shed or extends their lawn) or otherwise uses the land without permission? Sometimes immediately booting them is the best answer; sometimes making an accommodation that provides them with at least temporary permission makes more sense. Doing nothing invites trouble. WeConservePA guide. 3 pages.
When a local government is approving a subdivision and land development plan, a landowner or developer sometimes agrees to place restrictions on the land to ensure that no further subdivision or development of common open space or large lots can occur beyond that contemplated in the plan being approved. Pathways to establishing these restrictions in Pennsylvania so that they are enforceable in the event of a breach are described in this guide. WeConservePA guide. 6 pages.
A landowner concerned about the future use of their land can donate or sell their land on a conditional rather than absolute basis. The deed used to convey the land can include terms that will trigger a change in ownership back to them—or some other person or entity assigned by them—if use of the land falls out of compliance with the conditions set in the conveyance.