Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Land preservation easement in Wilmington

Airlie Gardens is a pretty amazing place and likely worth millions in terms of potential (private) land rents. Its preservation surely generates massive rents to the public at large (via recreation, education and aesthetics). Environmental rents are a public good, and as such those rents will not likely be provided by markets. Preservation may indeed be what's best for society, but without government intervention of some sort, it won't happen.

Because of tough economic times we're experiencing, the opportunity cost of Airlie preservation (lost revenues from sale) made its way into budgetary discussions by the county. The need to safeguard Airlie is therefore getting some attention.

Read the story here at the StarNewsOnline

Read an editorial comment here

What do you think about the easement?


Filorux said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Filorux said...

I don't think I have a crisp understanding of what's going on here. What is the economic incentive for anyone to purchase the land with such an easement placed on it? I have to confess I've never been to the gardens... Does open to the public mean, "open to the public who are willing to pay the entrance fee?" Or do they hold special ticketed events from time to time that don't fall under the "no commercial development" clause?

I mean, if potential buyers are the sort of folks who want to see the area preserved, then 1) why the easement, and 2) why are they considered buyers when what they want (preservation) is already guaranteed? I guess in the first case it guarantees that the buyer can't change their might later (as well as removing other buyers from the market). I'm missing something simple though, I'm sure of it.



Emily said...

Airlie Gardens is indeed open to the public- but for an entrance fee. I believe it's $6-8. They also make money by hosting weddings and the like there. I'm sure that their revenue probably just covers the costs of upkeep (which is extensive). I think that the only people who would benefit by buying property that can only be preserved are non-profits like the Nature Conservancy. Other potential buyers may see it as an investment and plan to use the Gardens in the same way that it has been- but maybe up the price of visiting or holding events on the grounds. Either way I'm glad that the garden will be preserved- but I feel like it's a shame for the county to sell it because it is such a unique piece of property and it is so valuable to New Hanover County.

Filorux said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Filorux said...

Brother, I'm just having all sorts of issues with this website today. Anyway, I was trying to say thanks for clarifying that for me.

Anonymous said...

i think that it's a great idea that the gardens must be sold to someone that only wishes to preserve the grounds since the grounds are such a unique possession to new hanover hanover county
i'm sure that i may be missing something here too but wouldn't it make sense to just up the entrance and usage fees. Airlie gardens is such a one-of-a-kind unique place that people would be willing to pay. the county wouldn't have to sell and would be able to make a bigger profit off the land.


amr3090 said...

I believe that the county needs to reassess how much New Hanover county values Airlie Gardens. It is one of the only beautiful plots of land in Wilmington left that offers aesthetic value and recreation opportunities to the people of this county. I understand that they are trying to reevaluate if Airlie Garden's is worth keeping since its opportunity costs are high, but they need to look at the big picture and understand that Arlie Garden's has history rooted into this part of North Carolina and that people travel to Wilmington just to visit this garden. The Azalea Festival is a prime example of tourists (and locals) using Airlie Gardens as a way to celebrate spring. If they take away, that could decrease potential revenue the county could generate from visiting people and locals. The county definitely needs to think this through very carefully.

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