Oldham couple affects Brownsboro with conservation easement

by Emily Sears | March 8, 2012

Brownsboro residents Ned and Nina Bonnie made a significant difference in Brownsboro’s future when they recently put their 524-acre farm into a conservation easement.  The Bonnies, who purchased Stonelea Farm since 1961, have insured the preservation of their land, protecting the views and agricultural quality of the property for generations to come.

The Courier-Journal published an article on January 25, 2012 spotlighting the Bonnies’ decision and affects of the easement.

Nina Bonnie said the easement gives her peace of mind.

“If you don’t put easements on land, it’s open to anything. It could be three houses to the acre, all sorts of things,” she said. “The land is important.”

Conservation easements are voluntary, legal agreements between land owners and land trusts that permanently limit the uses of the land to protect its conservation value.

Under a conservation easement, the land is still owned and managed by the property owner, who agrees to give up certain rights such as additional residential, commercial or industrial uses.

The Bonnies can continue their agricultural use of the property, which includes housing about 20 horses and growing hay. Some employees live on the land.

They can also use the land for conservation and educational activities, though they do not have to open the land up to the public. It remains privately owned.

“My husband for years has loved the idea of this becoming an equine teaching area,” Nina Bonnie said.

The easement also cannot be changed, regardless of the land’s owner.

Stonelea Farm was a perfect candidate, with its scenic views, agricultural potential, historical value and its role in the Oldham County watertable.  Stonelea Farm is also home to endangered species, so the easement will benefit the woodland creatures as well. The Bonnies have not only changed the future of their farm, but also had dramatic impact on the future of Oldham County; the benefits are far-reaching.

The decision to go forward with the easement is at the heart of Brownsboro Alliance’s mission, working together with local government and county-wide organizations to protect some of Oldham County’s most valuable assets.  Oldham Ahead, one of BA’s partners, is working closely with the Bonnies, the environmental trust that holds the easement, and county officials to see that the easement is executed and maintained properly.

Oldham Ahead seeks to promote responsible land use and has worked to do so through a number of Oldham government and private initiatives. The group at one time was called the Harrods Creek Land Trust, with a goal of taking on conservation easements, said Louise Allen, executive director, and Ned Bonnie, a founding member.

The group is starting to get back to that aim.

Oldham Ahead will assist in land stewardship, such as in monitoring the property annually to ensure that the terms of the Stonelea Farm conservation easement are upheld.

The Bonnies’ farm, along with several other easements in Oldham County, will continue to serve the community as growth continues.  With a three-school campus proposed in Brownsboro, many residents are concerned about development in the area.  With the Bonnies’ easement in place,  the largely agricultural community of Brownsboro will be protected, at least in part.  Going forward with the school and other developments, easements like the Bonnies’ at Stonelea Farm will ensure a balance between growth and land preservation, maintaining the roots of Brownsboro while fully participating in the 21st century.

For the full article from the Courier-Journal, visit http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20120125/ZONE09/301250046/Stonelea-Farm-conservation-easement-Brownsboro or contact us.