Historic Preservation Easements
Information for Owners of MHT Easement Properties
The donation of an easement conveys partial interest in the real property to the chosen organization. All easements are recorded at the county land records office and become part of the property’s chain of title. At this time, the Maryland Historical Trust only accepts perpetual easements, thus binding the grantor and all subsequent owners to the stipulations of the easement.
Copies of easements and other land records are available through the Maryland State Archives, in cooperation with the Maryland judiciary and the twenty-four elected Court Clerks of Maryland. Please note that Users must first apply for a username and password to use this website.
For more information or to request an inspection, please contact Amy Skinner at (410) 514-7632/ email@example.com.
Forms and Resources for Making Alterations to Easement Properties
Rights and Obligations of Property Owners
Easements are legally binding contractual agreements that are associated with the deed to the property. While the owner maintains full ownership of the property, he or she has assigned specific development rights to the organization. These may include restrictions on new construction, alterations and excavation, required maintenance, and the right to inspect the property to ensure that the owner is in compliance with the conditions of the easement.
Property owners are advised to contact the Trust, prior to the transfer of an easement property, to complete an inspection and confirm that the property is in good standing.
Breach of Easement
Because easements are legally binding agreements, altering a property without approval from MHT may have financial and/or legal consequences for property owners. Should the conditions of the Deed of Easement be breached, the binding agreement gives the Trust authority to exercise any or all of the following remedies:
- institute suit(s) to enjoin any breach or enforce any covenant by ex parte, temporary, and/or permanent injunction;
- demand that the Property be restored promptly to the condition required by the Easement; and
- enter upon the Property, correct any breach, and hold Grantor responsible for the resulting cost.
If a property owner is found to have breached any obligations under the Easement, they shall reimburse MHT for any costs or expenses incurred by the Trust, including court costs and attorneys’ fees.
Review Process for Alterations to Easement Properties - Ask First!
What needs to be reviewed?
MHT easements typically prohibit the owner from demolishing or making alterations to the property without prior written approval from the Director of the Maryland Historical Trust. The majority of the easements require approval for all construction, including reconstruction, improvement, enlargement, painting and decorating, alteration, demolition, maintenance or repair of any structure or works.
Alterations to easement properties recieving State or Federal financial assistance
Easement properties receiving capital grants, bond bills, loans, State or Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits, or other funding should indicate the source on the letter so that, if necessary, we may coordinate or notify the appropriate organization. Please keep in mind that most projects will require a separate review and approval process.
MHT Easement Committee
The Maryland Historical Trust Easement Committee is an employee staffed advisory board, consisting of architectural historians, archeologists, technical and material specialists, who review and make recommendations to the Director regarding changes to easement properties. The Committee meets regularly to review proposed modifications to easement properties and to make recommendations to the Director.
In determining what changes are appropriate for each easement property, the Committee determines whether the following conditions are met:
- the requested amendment is permitted under current law;
- the request is consistent and compatible with the intent and purposes of the original easement terms;
- the request is in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (36 CFR Part 68);
- the owner can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Easement Committee that the amendment will increase or prolong the protection, maintenance, and useful life of the property.
What Guidelines Do I Need to Follow?
In determining what changes are appropriate for each easement property, the Trust consults the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (36 CFR Part 68), published by the National Park Service. The Standards are intended to preserve those elements that will contribute to a buildings historic character and require that new additions or exterior alterations be compatible in mass, size, scale, and design of the historic structure. They serve as a guideline for proper preservation practice.
For reference on specific preservation projects, the Trust also consults the National Park Service’s Preservation Briefs, which offer guidance on preserving, rehabilitating and restoring historic buildings.
Do you have more specific design guidelines that I can use for my project?
MHT holds easements on a wide variety of properties in all parts of the State, making it nearly impossible for the Trust to develop design guidelines that would be relevant to all of our easement properties. Also, the terms of each easement are different, meaning that the spcific requirements for alterations to easement properties vary property by property. The Secretary of the Interior's Standards are intended to be flexible and apply to a wide variety of building types and accomodate different project goals. For this reason, the Trust considers each project individually. With enough advance time, it is possible to meet with a representative from the Trust to discuss the project and receive recommendations. Owners may also submit conecptual plans for review and conceptual approval at various stages of their project.
The Trust is also available to provide advice or technical assistance to historic properties.
In the event that an application is denied, the applicant may appeal this decision the MHT Board of Trustees.
Submit a detailed letter (from owner of property) addressed to the Chairman of the Maryland Historical Trust Board of Trustees [Mr. Harrison B. Wetherill, Jr.] in care of the Director of the Maryland Historical Trust [J. Rodney Little] and mailed to 100 Community Place, Crownsville, Maryland 21032, stating (in detail) the reason for appealing the decision by the Director of the MHT. Applications should include, and be limited to, only that information which was submitted to the MHT Easement Committee and Director to assist in their review, such as photos, architectural plans, drawings, etc. All letters from the Director should be included with the application. While attendance is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged. An appeal case may be considered in an appellant’s absence.
Please see Procedures for Appeals and Requests for Reconsideration by the MHT Board of Trustees for more information on appealing a decision on a Preservation Easement property.
A request for approval of work which is substantially identical to a previously rejected request may not be resubmitted within a period of one year after the rejection, except in cases where the applicant is able to present significant new information, as determined by the Committee.
Owners of easement properties may qualify for a variety of local, State, and/or Federal financial incentives depending on their tax exempt status and the nature of their project. The Maryland Historical Trust offers grants, loans, and tax credits to owners of historic properties. There are also other funding sources available outside of the Trust.
Coordinating MHT review
Like the easement program, the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are consulted in review of all projects funded by the Trust. Changes or alterations to easement properties funded by the Trust or other organizations will most likely require a separate approval process. The Trust recommends that proposed projects are presented for review to the easement committee prior to obtaining approval by other departments or organizations, including local historic preservation/district commissions.
Please contact Amy Skinner (410) 514-7632 for more information or to coordinate a review.
Owners seeking approval for alterations to easement properties must follow the review and approval process:
- Submit a letter of (from owner of property) request to:
Maryland Historical Trust
Amy Skinner, Administrator
Preservation Easement Programs
100 Community Place
Crownsville, MD 2103
In your letter, decribe (in detail) the proposed alteration(s) to the easement property. Include any information that would assist the Easement Committee and the Director in their review, such as photos, architectural plans, drawings, etc.
If the request does not include sufficient information needed for the Committee to make a decision, the Committee will consider the request incomplete and direct staff to obtain the required information from the applicant. For some projects, a site visit by staff or the Committee may be necessary.
- Maryland Historical Trust Easement Committee will review the request at its regularly scheduled meeting, every three weeks.
All applications must be submitted at least one week prior to the scheduled meeting date. For a list of upcoming dates, please view a copy of the Easement Committee meeting schedule.
- If the application is complete, the Committee will make a recommendation to the Director of the Maryland Historical Trust [J. Rodney Little], who will approve, approve with conditions, or deny the request based upon the Committee’s recommendation.
Generally, the Committee and the Director will apply the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (36 CFR Part 68) in their review of requests.
- A letter detailing the Director’s decision will be sent to the applicant within the length of time specified within the easement.
- Applicants who will provide information that is relevant to the project may be permitted to attend the meetings. Please indicate your request in your application letter. The Easement Committee is not a “public body” as defined under the State Open Meetings Act (State Government Article, § 10-502(h), Annotated Code of Maryland). Its meetings are not open sessions and the Open Meetings Act does not entitle the general public to attend.
- A request for approval of work which is substantially identical to a previously rejected request may not be resubmitted within a period of one year after the rejection, except in cases where the applicant is able to present significant new information, as determined by the Committee.
The Trust is also available to provide advice or technical assistance to historic properties. The National Park Service Technical Briefs are another useful resource when considering repair or modifications to an historic building or structure.
This page updated: December 19, 2012