Historic preservation easements are important tools that ensure a property’s historic and cultural value will be protected in perpetuity. Contractual agreements with property owners, preservation easements can safeguard historic homes, farmsteads, archeological sites, historic landscapes and other features from development and demolition.
Typically, owners of the easement property agree to relinquish partial development rights, to maintain the property, to provide limited public access, and to obtain prior approval for any changes or alterations. In exchange, the easement-holding organization promises to ensure compliance with the terms of the easement to protect the property for future generations. Preservation easements sometimes also carry tax benefits to the property owner. In some cases, conveyance of an easement is a requirement to receive financial support (such as grants) from the state.
The State of Maryland’s preservation easements are managed by the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT), which holds more than 650 easements encompassing approximately 9,200 acres statewide. MHT staff work with property owners to develop easement terms, review and approve any changes or alterations to the property, and advise owners on the best preservation methods. Harford County has 23 Maryland Historical Trust Easement properties, nine of which are also Harford County Historic Landmarks.