RALEIGH — A city conservation organization late last month secured two land donations just before the state’s conservation tax credit expired.
The tracts of land – 38.5 acres near Walnut Creek in southeast Raleigh and 43.4 acres along the Neuse River near Capital Boulevard – were donated to the City of Oaks Foundation, a nonprofit that helps accept land donations for the city.
Both donations are expected to qualify for a conservation tax credit that expired Dec. 31. The credit’s expiration prompted a flurry of activity in the final weeks of 2013 as donors raced to beat the deadline.
Jim Anderson, head of the land development group that donated the land near Walnut Creek, said the credit helped tip the scales in favor of the donation.
“We felt like it was the right thing to do given its proximity to Walnut Creek and the greenway,” he said.
The credit allowed landowners to reduce their tax bills by as much as 25 percent of the value of the property they conserve through a donation or easement. Land owners could claim a credit of up to $250,00 for an individual or $500,000 for corporations or partnerships.
Kevin Brice, executive director of the foundation, said the Walnut Creek tract, valued at $1.5 million, could make an ideal location for a new neighborhood park. And if officials decide to pursue the idea, they’re already one step into the process.
“That’s $1.5 million the city doesn’t have to spend on land acquisition,” he said.
The land features hardwood forest with oak, hickory and beech trees. The property is west of New Hope Road and is bisected by the Walnut Creek Greenway.
Fresenius Kabi USA, a health care company with a Raleigh location, donated the second tract of land, which is worth $700,000.
The area is made up of floodplain forest and wetlands that help protect water quality. Conserving the land also ensures a scenic buffer for those on the Neuse River Greenway, Brice said.
Brice said the foundation is able to move quickly to secure land donations and then transfer them to the city, where the approval process is much longer.
“To me, it’s the best of both worlds,” he said.
Last year was the first that the foundation accepted donations or easements, and it ended 2013 with three projects, the two land donations and a conservation easement that means a farm property will eventually be donated to the foundation.
Brice said he would like to at least match that record in the future.
“I think we can build on what we’ve done,” he said.