Open Space Acquisition



Summit County acquires property and secures conservation easements for the purposes of open space, preservation, and agriculture protection.   


  • Purchase: The landowner (seller) requests the full market value for the property transaction or conservation easement designation from the purchaser (buyer). 
  • Full Donation: A full donation is when the landowner donates ownership of the land in totality without compensation from the recipient. This transaction is also called a Fee Simple Donation and can provide tax benefits to the donor.  
  • Partial Donation: A partial donation is a combination of Fee Title and Fee Simple. It is used when a landowner wants to retain a portion of the property rights or would like to receive a cash payment for a portion of the property value. The remaining rights and/or value of the property are donated to the recipient. 


  • Fee Title: Fee title land transactions are voluntary transactions between a landowner (seller/donator) and purchaser (buyer/receiver). A fee title is a full interest in real property. In granting a sale of land, the landowner generally retains no ownership of the property and gives up all rights. 
  • Conservation Easement: The owner agrees to restrict use of the property, in perpetuity, in exchange for cash, tax benefits, or other compensation, such as Transferable Development Rights (TDRs). These properties remain privately owned and are therefore, in many cases, do not provide public access. 
  • Access Easement: The owner agrees to grant an easement benefiting open space, such as a trail easement or an access easement across private land. 


The qualifying criteria will be determined by the funding, location of property and priorities created by the open space advisory committees.  In general, Summit County acquires properties that meet one or more of the following: 

  • Preserving rural areas that provide community buffers including significant agricultural land. 
  • Land for passive recreation including land for public access and potential trail connections. 
  • Land with other significant resources, including scenic view corridors, riparian corridors, wetlands, and wildlife habitat. 
  • Properties that reduce development density, or provide growth limitation/buffers 


The Summit County Open Space/Land Protection Application can be found below. In order to be considered for evaluation, the proposed property MUST meet all of the following requirements: 

  1. The property must have a willing landowner(s). 
  2. The application must be submitted by the landowner or an authorized representative for the landowner. 
  3. The proposed parcel must reside within Summit County boundary. 

NOIs are encouraged to be evaluated and sponsored by an accredited land trust or equivalent legal entity


Initial Presentation and Site Visit.  The NOI will be scheduled on an agenda of the appropriate open space advisory committee for an initial presentation by the landowner, accredited land trust or equivalent legal entity and such Subcommittee may conduct a site visit to review and verify the property for conformance with Evaluation Standards. Following the initial presentation and site visit, the appropriate open space advisory committee shall make a recommendation, and will review and verify the property for conformance with Evaluation Standards.  

Generally, committees meet once a month. It may take several months to review each application; urgent needs will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.