H5914, known as the “liberal interpretation” bill, was passed in a House vote today. This bill has been a major priority for the RI Land Trust Council this legislative session.
The bill will amend Rhode Island’s enabling legislation for conservation restrictions (also called conservation easements) so that the legislative intent — that conservation restrictions are for the public benefit — is made clear. Clarifying the enabling legislation will provide courts with a clear basis to uphold the conservation purposes of an easement, if there is ever a dispute about its meaning. Currently, judges may apply common law in any legal dispute over conservation restrictions, which favors the property owner instead of honoring the original intent of the conservation restriction — to protect land in perpetuity. This legislation defends the millions of dollars that the state, federal government, municipalities, individuals, and non-profit organizations have invested and are investing to protect land with conservation easements for the public benefit.
Thank you to the bill sponsors Chairman Robert Craven and Senator Louis DiPalma for their support!
A vote is scheduled in the Senate for next Tuesday, May 9th.