Land Bank Taxes
The Marthas Vineyard Land Bank was
established in 1986 to support island conservation
efforts. Across the island, thousands of acres
have been purchased by the Land Bank, preserved
in their natural, unspoiled state and opened
for selective public access. These areas include
beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and farmlands.
All island real estate transactions are subject
to a 2% Land Bank tax, paid by the buyer at
closing. These taxes are used by the Land
Bank to fund additional property acquisition
and preservation efforts.
Why a Land Bank?
Marthas Vineyard has witnessed unprecedented
change in the most recent decades. Farming declined;
centuries-old pastures and fields were left
to knot into vines and shrubs. The freedom
to roam was curtailed as fences were erected
across trails, beaches were gated off, and hunting
Few of these problems could be solved by planning
boards and conservation commissions only; the
Vineyard needed a new type of land agency. In
the midst of an up-spiraling building boom,
island voters created the land bank in 1986
and charged it with reversing their losses.
Nearly 15 years have elapsed, and more than
1,500 acres have now been conserved. Although
this sounds impressive, it is actually small;
just 2% of the land area on the island. The
commissions revenuegenerated by
a 2% public surcharge on most real estate transfers
occurring in the six townsis modest compared
to need, ensuring that islanders can expect
the Land Bank to protect only a fraction of
And this money must go far. Farmers, hikers,
beach-combers, birders, hunters, and many others
are all constituents of the Land Bank, and all
deserve to have some land set aside for their
The Land Banks private-sector counterparts,
fortunately, help out. Private trusts on the
island such as the Sheriffs Meadow Foundation
and the Nature Conservancy specialize in creating
wildlife sanctuaries of their lands. Their extraordinary
work across the Vineyard frees the Land Bank
to pursue a more diverse mission, where some
Land Bank properties are reserved for wildlife
and others are used for agriculture, hunting,
and other types of conservation uses.
Balance is key in Land Bank property management.
Environmental protection leads the list of Land
Bank goals, with public access encouraged where
and when possible. Trails avoid sensitive areas,
signs advise of special precautions visitors
need take, and attendants are hired when necessary
to oversee use.
The Land Bank is a rare breed. Neither a sanctuary
program nor a park system, it is a middle ground
where the highest virtues of conservation can
be realized: public enjoyment of nature, where
limits and restrain secure the natural worlds
future and prosperity.
narrativewas provided by the Marthas Vineyard
Land Bank www.mvlandbank.com.
You can learn more about the Land Bank at www.mvlandbank.com
and by reading an excellent article published
of the Islands included in the
Estate Articles section of the