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What’s the difference between the two land trusts in the Cape Fear region?

Andrew Dunn
StarNews
Clarendon Plantation

N.C. Coastal Land Trust secured 750 acres to protect Clarendon Plantation, off of N.C. 133 in Brunswick County. (StarNews file photo)

The N.C. Coastal Land Trust and the Cape Fear Housing Land Trust operate similarly: They buy land.

“We use classic acquisition and tax law, rather than advocacy, to meet our goals,” said Camilla Herlevich, executive director of the N.C. Coastal Land Trust.

But they use that tactic to different ends. One is a conservation group, the other a way to help lower-income people buy homes.

The Coastal Land Trust, formed in 1992, is an environmental group that buys land to preserve it. It currently has more than 40,000 acres under its protection around the state.

Sometimes the organization transfers land back to local governments, as it did with the Brunswick Nature Park site. Other times it works with landowners to put what is known as a conservation easement on a deed that prevents future development.

The Housing Land Trust, on the other hand, uses the land it purchases to make homes more affordable for first-time buyers, said executive director Erin Diener.

The organization targets service workers and public safety officers, among others.

“These people are low- to moderate-income people who can’t afford to live in the counties they work in,” Diener said.

The homeowner will buy the house, and the land trust will lease the land under it to them through a renewable 99-year, inheritable lease.

The setup can reduce the overall cost by 20 percent to 40 percent, Diener said.

The organization, now in its third year, hopes to have from nine and 15 homes sold in the next few years.

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