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Conservancy Grants - Preservation Partnership Program (PPP) - Land Preservation Projects

Grants to Chester County, Pennsylvania
Nonprofits for the Preservation of Land Resources

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Chester County - Department of Open Space Preservation

Deadline Date:

02/12/18 4:00 PM


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Grants to Chester County, Pennsylvania nonprofit conservation organizations for the preservation of historic, cultural, natural, and agricultural land resources. Applicant must schedule a site visit with program staff and ensure pre-qualification with the funding source.

The Commissioners of Chester County, Pennsylvania offer the Preservation Partnership Program (PPP) to fund land protection projects that benefit the public by permanently preserving significant natural, agricultural, historic, and cultural land resources; providing public access; and implementing County and municipal land use policies. Any eligible nonprofit conservation organization may submit a PPP application for any eligible project as long as the project is within the County of Chester and is consistent with County policy.

Program Areas:
-Natural Area Preservation
-Farmland Preservation
-Transaction Costs Associated with the Full Donation of Land or Easement
-Trail Construction (Please refer to the separate manual)

Eligible Projects:

A. Fee simple land acquisition of privately owned properties that are consistent with County land use policy and provide public benefits.

B. Acquisition of conservation easements that are consistent with County land use policy and provide public benefits.

C. Farmland Preservation Projects: Fee simple purchases of agricultural land or the acquisition of conservation easements on agricultural land if the project meets the following criteria:
i) Minimum 15 net acres of farmland
ii) Minimum 50% of the parcel in agricultural use
iii) Parcels with less than 15 net acres of farmland with at least 50% of the parcel in agricultural use will be considered on a case by case basis.
iv) Must net out a minimum of 2 acres around existing residences and support structures as well as access to these areas and any other excluded areas

D. Right-of-way easements for public recreational use (e.g. trails).

E. Acquisition of eased or restricted property if ownership will significantly increase public access and recreational opportunities on the property.

F. Land purchases from non-County governmental agencies where the acquisition will result in a substantial increase in public access and use.

G. Acquisition of historically significant cultural landscapes, such as properties registered on the list of historic places by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, or located within a National Historic District.

H. Transaction costs associated with eligible projects involving the full donation of land or easement to the nonprofit, up to the limits established by this program.

Contiguous parcels under the same ownership may be submitted as one project.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 179596

Estimated Size of Grant:

Eligible Costs and Funding Amounts:

A. Acquisition. The direct financial cost to the nonprofit to purchase an interest in property in the following amounts:

1. Natural area preservation projects may receive up to 50% of the appraised market value of the land or easement, with the total grant request not to exceed $350,000. If an extraordinary conservation opportunity presents itself, the County will consider requests in excess of $350,000 on a case-by-case basis but only up to the 50% funding level.

2. For farmland preservation projects, fee simple purchases may receive the lesser of $5,000 per acre or 33% of the appraised market value of the land, and conservation easement purchases may receive the lesser of $3,000 per acre or 33% of the appraised value of the easement.

B. Appraisals. The County may reimburse 100% of the cost of one appraisal up to $2,500 for each successful project. To be eligible for reimbursement, the appraisal shall follow the County’s Appraisal Requirements and Formatting Guidelines, meet the general appraisal requirements, and be approved by the County. Only one appraisal will be reimbursed for any approved and completed project. Because these funds are only provided for successful projects, the earliest they are available is at settlement.

C. Title Insurance. The County requires that the full value of the rights being acquired be insured. Title insurance is required for fee simple acquisitions and the acquisition of conservation easements. Because these funds are only provided for successful projects, the earliest they are available is at settlement. The County may reimburse 100% of the cost of a title insurance policy issued by a title insurance company authorized to conduct business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania based on a County approved appraisal.

D. Surveys. The County requires a survey to be completed for each project, performed by a professional land surveyor registered in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For the survey to be an eligible expense, a minimum of three price quotes must be submitted. (For surveys that cost less than $4,000, only one price quote is required.) The County may reimburse 100% of the lowest price quote submitted or 100% of the actual cost of the survey; whichever is less. This reimbursement policy will be followed regardless of the vendor chosen by the applicant. These funds are only provided for successful projects - therefore the earliest they are available is at settlement.

Nonprofits shall have the surveyor visibly mark the boundaries with concrete monuments in the field, and provide the boundary information (GPS coordinates) in an electronic format that can be used with Geographic Information System (GIS) software.

E. Baseline Documentation Report & Consultant Fees. While staff time is not eligible for PPP funds (and cannot count towards the nonprofit's required match), the County may reimburse 100% of eligible consultant fees for successfully completed projects up to a maximum of $2,000 per project (including compilation and reproduction of the baseline documentation report). An itemized, dated invoice, signed by the consultant must be submitted to the County in order for the County to release funds granted to the nonprofit for this purpose. If the nonprofit elects not to use a consultant, the nonprofit itself is eligible for 100% reimbursement of eligible baseline documentation costs (not including labor) up to a maximum of $2,000. Examples of eligible costs include travel expenses solely related to preparing the baseline documentation report at the IRS business mileage rate, and photo printing costs. Nonprofit labor, such as staff time or donations of volunteer or staff time, is not an eligible cost and cannot be used to match the County grant. Because these funds are only provided for successful projects, the earliest they are available is at settlement.

F. Monitoring and Enforcement: The County may contribute funds to the applicant to monitor and enforce conservation easements and open space covenants at the time those parcels are acquired or eased. This component of the program is not retroactive to parcels previously protected through the PPP or any other method. The County may compensate the nonprofit in the amount of $3,000 to monitor and enforce the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions for each fee simple purchase made with PPP funds and $4,000 to monitor and enforce the terms of each conservation easement acquired with PPP funds.

Term of Contract:

The contract term is 3 years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible Applicants:

A. Eligible applicants are nonprofit conservation or preservation organizations, conservancies, or land trusts that have a primary purpose of conservation and preservation of open space, parklands, or natural areas for public benefit; are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; are registered with the Bureau of Charitable Organizations within the Pennsylvania Department of State; are pre-qualified by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) as eligible to receive Land Trust acquisition grants; and have been in existence for at least 5 consecutive years.

B. Organizations that are not pre-qualified by DCNR may obtain a pre-qualification form and instructions from Drew Gilchrist, Southeast Regional Advisor (see contact details below).

C. At its sole discretion, the County may approve grants to nonprofit applicants whose primary mission is related to the public purpose served by the land preservation project. This includes, but is not limited to the production of food or agricultural commodities for the residents of Chester County or land that has cultural and/or historic significance and is open to respectful and responsible public visitation at no charge.

Ineligible Projects:
A. Parcels whose preservation is not consistent with County land use policy.
B. Lands already under the protection of a conservation easement where no additional significant public benefit is proposed.
C. Land that is proposed for, or in the future may be used for, any use other than open space and/or recreation, including, but not limited to the disposal of sewage of any kind (including spray or drip irrigation use) and cell towers.
D. Large parcels of land predominantly comprised of class one prime agricultural soils with no public access that are better suited for the agricultural preservation programs administered by the Agricultural Land Preservation Board (Contact Geoff Shellington, Chester County Agricultural Programs Coordinator at 610-344-6504 for information about these programs).
E. A parcel that is known or suspected to be contaminated with hazardous substances or hazardous waste unless it has received DEP Act 2 clearance for the proposed use.
F. Facade easements.
G. Structures of monetary value.
H. Private rights-of-way.
I. Lands under County ownership or where Chester County has a legal interest in the property.

Ineligible Costs:
A. Any costs in excess of the grant contract amount.
B. Any costs not included as “PPP Funds Requested” on the Financial Summary Sheet. (This sheet is a required component/form in the grant application.)
C. Demolition costs.
D. Site clean up (removal of trash, for example).
E. In-kind contributions of donated time or materials.
F. Acquisition cost of any structures of monetary value and their appurtenant property.
G. Mortgage or loan interest.
H. Any and all costs associated with an appraisal that the County determines is not in compliance with the PPP appraisal guidelines.
I. Any and all costs after final reimbursement.
J. Any monitoring and enforcement costs for parcels that are currently permanently protected or owned by a 501(c)(3) Conservation Organization.
K. Any other costs not specifically noted as eligible for grant reimbursement.

Pre-Application Information:

Funding Requests for Natural Area Preservation Projects: Applicants may request up to 50% of the appraised market value of the property or easement.

Funding Requests for Farmland Preservation Projects: Applicants may request 33% of the appraised value.

Funding Requests for Transaction Costs for Full Donations of Land or Easements: Applicants may request a maximum of 33% of the appraised value.

Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to use 100% of the County PPP grant funds to leverage federal, state, and private funds.

More information about eligible matching funds may be found in the program manual.

If the nonprofit anticipates purchasing a property or an easement or incurring costs on a project before the 2018 PPP grants are awarded, it must request a waiver of retroactivity from the County at least 6 weeks prior to settlement. The granting of a waiver ensures that funding requests for projects which are properly submitted before the application deadline remain eligible for consideration by the County Commissioners, even though work on the project has already begun.

The applicant shall contact Judy Thomas, Preservation Programs Coordinator as early as possible in the project development process to schedule the mandatory project site visit.

The application deadline is Monday, February 12, 2018 by 4:00 PM.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Judy Thomas, Preservation Programs Coordinator

Chester County Department of Open Space Preservation
601 Westtown Road, Suite 390
P.O. Box 2747
West Chester, PA 19380-0990

For DCNR Pre-Qualification, contact:
Drew Gilchrist, Southeast Regional Advisor
(215) 560-1183

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Pennsylvania: Chester County