Letter to the editor: Fiester Preserve conservation easement is real
I was encouraged when I opened the paper and saw the title of the opinion column by Susan Knopf, “Community could do better on Fiester Preserve.” And then I read the column and could not be more disappointed.
I don’t think I have ever seen a more united Summit County community than the opposition to removing the Fiester Preserve conservation easement. When have you seen Democrats, Republicans, environmentalists, real estate brokers, residents and visitors get behind the same issue? Removing the Fiester Preserve conservation easement is a bad idea. Let’s save the discussion for another day on whether the community should support senior housing. Maybe we should or shouldn’t but certainly not on Fiester Preserve.
Despite the writer’s opinion, a conservation easement is an elevated legal concept, not just “a dream” or “a vision.” Conservation easements are real. They are put in place representing the values of the community and to prevent the public and future community leadership from easily changing their minds. Likewise, the standard of care for our county officials making the decision to remove the Fiester Preserve conservation easement should be elevated.
My concern is that nobody understands the unintended consequences of the county’s actions. Friends of the Lower Blue are right to be concerned about the precedent-setting future of conservation easements. Can future leadership at the county overturn their years of hard efforts to preserve the Lower Blue character? What about workforce housing deed restrictions? Can we just wait a few years with new leadership who don’t think those deed restrictions should be enforced?
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Let’s not debate the word “perpetuity.” Let’s revegetate Fiester Preserve back to what it was before the beetle kill devastated the forest. Let’s let the community weigh in with a ballot question.
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