Seabrook Island Green Space Conservancy (SIGSC) acquired its first property more than twenty years ago. There are now 44 lots that have been conserved for a total of more than 30 acres! These conserved lots are owned in perpetuity by the Seabrook Island community. This land contributes not only to the beauty and charm of the Island, but also assists with flood control, noise abatement, air quality, climate regulation, groundwater recharge, carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitat.
Have you noticed the small green and gold “Conserved Green Space” signs posted all around Seabrook Island? The signs have QR Codes that take you to sigsc.net and to sipoa.org. They also tell you that these properties are “green spaces” protected from development, but they don’t tell you how this protection came about.
Lot Selection: SIGSC evaluates each undeveloped lot for its desirability as green space. The most desirable lots for conservation are those with excellent opportunities for wildlife habitat and usually have plenty of trees and pollinator plants. However, the ever-diminishing undeveloped lots on Seabrook Island and other factors, such as cost and availability, are important in determining which lots to pursue for conservation. SIGSC acts as an intermediary, purchasing a property and placing a restrictive covenant on the property, and then transfers ownership to the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association (SIPOA) for oversight and maintenance.
Acquisition Process: SIGSC acquires properties several different ways. The least complicated way is a straightforward purchase, using funds donated from generous donors or from funds raised at charitable events such as the Green Space Oyster Roast held last March. Given lot prices today, it typically takes several years of fund-raising to amass enough money to buy a lot at full market value.
A second way to conserve a lot is through an outright donation of a lot by the lot’s owner. As you might expect, this approach offers advantages to both SIGSC and the owner. The donor becomes eligible for an income tax deduction based upon the lot’s appraised value and is released from the payment of property taxes and homeowner contributions to SIPOA.
In recent years, a third way to acquire properties for conservation has become popular. When property owners want to conserve a specific property near their home, they might pledge a dollar amount towards the acquisition of that property. SIGSC could then provide additional funds towards the purchase and assist in negotiating the purchase. A good example is when neighbors pool their donations to conserve a wooded lot near their homes.
Since SIGSC is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, the donated funds are considered charitable donations.
Financial Factors: Real estate transaction costs are generally covered by SIGSC funds and through the donated time of a realtor who takes no commission and an attorney who works pro bono. These cost saving measures, plus the charitable donation opportunity, means that buying/selling a property through the SIGSC maximizes the donor’s charitable deduction.
If you are interested in working with the Seabrook Island Green Space
Conservancy on conserving a specific lot, please contact Carl Voelker at (803) 259-4011. To learn more about SIGSC or to donate, go to sigsc.net.
The creative and generous support of the Seabrook Island Community will make continued conservation possible!
-Submitted by Carl Voelker, Board Member, Seabrook Island Green Space