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Real Estate Articles Getting Here Land Bank

Land Bank Taxes

The Martha’s 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?

Martha’s 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 was restricted.

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 commission’s revenue—generated by a 2% public surcharge on most real estate transfers occurring in the six towns—is modest compared to need, ensuring that islanders can expect the Land Bank to protect only a fraction of their community.

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 special needs.

The Land Bank’s private-sector counterparts, fortunately, help out. Private trusts on the island such as the Sheriff’s 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 world’s future and prosperity.

The preceding narrativewas provided by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank

You can learn more about the Land Bank at and by reading an excellent article published by Times of the Islands included in the Real Estate Articles section of the site.

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P.O. Box 817
Vineyard Haven, MA 02568
(508) 693-6866

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