Administration of the Preservation Easement Program
One of the critical advantages to donating a preservation easement to Historic New England is the that the organization maintains a full-time, professional staff to assist with the negotiation and monitoring of its Preservation Easement Program. In addition to conducting routine site visits and assisting property owners with routine maintenance advice, program staff can assist in determining good methods of repair for fragile building elements as well as guide Historic New England's review of projects that affect protected features of a historic property. Administration of the Preservation Easement Program can be summarized as including: (1) monitoring of easement properties; (2) approval of proposed projects as permissible within the restrictions of a specific easement; and (3) enforcement of easements.
Each year, one of the Preservation Easement Program's highly qualified staff members will contact the property owner to schedule an annual site visit at a mutually convenient time. The visit, which generally lasts one to two hours and is conducted with both the property owner and program staff, consists of viewing the protected features of the building, reviewing overall maintenance issues and discussing upcoming work. Because assessing the building's condition under varying weather conditions is preferable, the annual visit is undertaken at different times each year. After each visit, a written report is prepared by program staff and a copy sent to the property owner.
Repairs and Alterations
In addition to routine maintenance, owners may occasionally need to conduct larger renovation projects that may affect protected features. Proposed projects should first be discussed during the annual visit or with prior consultation with Preservation Easement Program staff to determine whether protected features will be affected and/or if Historic New England's approval will be needed. If so, owners must submit a Request for Project Approval Form (PDF).
Once received, Historic New England's Preservation Easement Committee will review all proposals within thirty to ninety days (Historic New England will work as expeditiously as possible to review all requests). Work may begin once the property owner receives written approval for a project from Historic New England. During larger or more complex projects, Preservation Easement Program staff may document the ongoing work, usually through measured drawings or photographs. In addition staff are available to assist with unforeseen issues that may require Historic New England's prompt review during the course of a project.
Preservation Easement Program staff is available on short notice for on-site review of emergency repair work that may affect protected features of a historic building.
A critical element to a successful easement program is whether the easement holding organization has the resources and willingness to enforce the easements it holds should violations occur. Historic New England has both and considers a strong enforcement policy vital to maintaining the integrity of its program. Historic New England believes it has a responsibility to ensure the preservation of the properties it has promised to protect, and recognizes the great trust that has been placed upon the organization by easement donors.