In November of 2002, Clarence residents overwhelmingly approved a $12.5 million bond authorization to fund protection of open space, riparian corridors, scenic vistas and farmland in the Town of Clarence in northern Erie County.The Town will use the funds to purchase land and extinguish development rights on targeted lands throughout the community.
On March 26, 2003, the Clarence Town Board approved a resolution appointing the Western New York Land Conservancy as the Town’s agent in planning and implementing the Town’s “Greenprint” plan. Under the supervision of Director of Community Development, Jim Callahan, with the Town Planning Department, the Clarence Greenprint was developed with assistance from the University at Buffalo’s Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth, Buffalo State College’s Geography and Planning Department, the Town of Clarence Recreation Advisory Committee and Conservation Advisory Council, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Town of Newstead resident, Ken Koehler, an Erie County Environmental Management Council member and one of the founding directors of the Land Conservancy was instrumental in coordinating planning efforts.
Through the Land Conservancy, the Town of Clarence began contacting owners of land that meets the Greenprint protection objectives. Initially, owners of parcels at least 10 acres in size are contacted to determine if they are interested in selling (extinguishing) development rights or title to their property. Protection work is then prioritized based on parcel size and Greenprint conservation objectives.
The Town of Clarence recognizes the strategic advantage of involving a non-governmental partner in planning and implementing the Clarence Greenprint. “We feel that the Land Conservancy will add another layer of impartiality to the process of landowner contacts and negotiations,” said Callahan. Callahan added that the Western New York Land Conservancy is uniquely qualified to assist the Town because of its experience and mission
Michael B. Powers, a member of the Clarence Recreational Advisory Committee and Chairman of the Erie County Environmental Management Council praised the efforts of Mr. Koehler, the Greenprint Committee and the Town. “This is a culmination of years of hard work and dedication to preserving the character of our Town.”
The Land Conservancy received $3000 for assisting the Town of Clarence in 2003. Additionally, stewardship fund contributions accompany the establishment of conservation easements. The stewardship funds will be managed by the Land Conservancy for long term legal defense of conservation easements and for perpetual monitoring of conservation easement protected properties.