A majority of the land that the Hudson Highlands Land Trust protects is through the voluntary donation of conservation easements by conservation-minded landowners. HHLT recognizes that some landowners who wish to donate conservation easements on their properties would like to reserve the right to allow some future additional development of the property, perhaps to allow members of their family to enjoy the land with them. It is important to ensure the right balance is achieved between protecting valuable natural resources and allowing new structures, properly sited, to fit within the landscape. The guidelines below serve to advise conservation easement donors of the goals HHLT hopes to achieve through its partnership with landowners.
HHLT works to protect a variety of natural and community resources.
Forests: Forests play a vital role in our ecosystem by holding moisture, producing oxygen, holding highly erodible soil on the hillsides, and providing wildlife habitat. Scientific study has shown us that we are entirely dependent on the plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms that make up the biodiversity of our land. All forest management should be based on accepted silvacultural practices. All logging should be done based on a management plan prepared by a forester approved by the Land Trust; accepted NYS sustainable forestry guidelines; and/or NYS 480-A logging guidelines.
Water Resources: Stream corridors, ponds, wetlands, aquifers, and floodplains store and regulate flood and storm water runoff, control erosion, provide habitat for diverse species, and help to filter pollutants contributing to the protection of clean groundwater. A 100-foot minimum setback from a stream, wetland, or water body can help to preserve the water's quality, integrity and health. This is in many cases a New York State DEC requirement.
Agricultural Land: Although agricultural lands within the Hudson Highlands continue to disappear, that remaining provides a unique visual quality to our landscape, and is a source of basic food needed for the growing population. Locating structures at the edge of a field rather than in the middle preserves the future agricultural potential and offsite views.
Community Character & Scenic Views: Community character and scenic views are resources that everyone enjoys. Appropriate siting and design of buildings are important to protect views from offsite. Poor planning can result in protrusions that impact everyone's view. Architecture that complements rather than dominates a site, and buildings that are sited and designed to conform to the lay of the land using existing site features, will blend nicely into the existing landscape.
HHLT wishes to ensure that buildings are sited to affect the least amount of change to the landscape in order to protect the property's most valuable assets.
Crestline or Ridgeline Siting - Appropriate siting of any constructed improvements on the landscape is important to HHLT in terms of visibility from off-site. HHLT will not accept easements where crestline or ridgeline siting is proposed. It is better to build along the side of a hill or ridge rather on the crest, where the sun is hotter, the wind is colder and stronger, and landscape plants have a hard time growing. A crest site also impacts everyone's view.
Forests - Preserving woodlands and forests as part of an ecosystem is important. Allowing nature to help guide a site design by minimizing the degree to which the terrain is altered can help preserve our biodiversity. Our goal is to preserve the forest integrity, size, and connectivity as much as possible. These factors should be considered when identifying a building envelope or siting new structures.
Building Envelopes - The size of acceptable building envelopes will depend upon the size of the property. Clustering buildings (house, barns, sheds) together and retaining larger blocks of undeveloped land is consistent with surrounding land use patterns and stronger protection of our resources.
Appropriate Size of Structures - The size of a principal residence and any accessory structures should be in proportion to the size of the land or acreage to be protected. Allow the landscape, rather than the buildings, to remain the dominant feature.
Height - The height of buildings should not exceed 30' as measured from the average historic mean grade to the top of the highest roof peak. Well-designed architecture blends into, rather than protrudes from, the landscape. Buildings should not protrude above the treetops, as seen from offsite.
Color - Under HHLT easements, non-reflective material for siding and roofs is recommended. Preference is also often given to muted, natural paint colors, unless the structure is historic and brighter colors are more historically accurate. Bright colors tend to stand out and contrast with the natural setting.
Agricultural Structures: Agricultural structures are allowed on those properties that have agricultural land. The size of agricultural structures should be in proportion to the amount of agricultural land on the property to be protected. Indoor riding arenas would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Architectural Review - Buildings that blend into the landscape and appear traditional to the area result in a more beautiful home. HHLT requests architectural review over siting and impact of buildings, not over someone's taste.
Lighting - Outdoor lighting should not result in glare visible from off the Property that is inconsistent with the rural character or the natural environment. Night lighting can have a negative impact on off-site views as well as on the nocturnal habits of neighboring wildlife.
Driveways - Unpaved driveways are strongly encouraged over paved surfaces.