2007-12-28 / Beauty in the Backyard

Eleazers dedicate land

By Benjamin Higgins Higgins2@yahoo.com

John and Wendy Eleazer and their daughter, Bay, along with members of Richland County Council and Conservation Commission, dedicated their 62- acre property as a conservation easement On December 10. The easement will allow the Eleazers to maintain possession of their land, while partnering with Richland County government to protect their property from development.

The Eleazer land is an expansive piece of property in northwest Richland County. With its large forest and an ample garden, it seems an ideal location for farming and hunting. According to Wendy Eleazer, most of the meat they consume in the winter is venison shot by John.

The property has no shortage of wildlife in addition to the deer and other forest animals.

"Buzzards perform a mating dance in the Eleazer barn every year around January 15," John Eleazer said.

Bill Malinowski, the Eleazers' Richland County Council representative, described the gift of their land as a conservation easement as "timeless, priceless and most of all, unselfish."

"It truly has conservation value worth protecting," Jim Wilson of the Conservation Commission noted.

Richland County sees the 62 acres as essential for maintaining the ecosystem of the Hollingshed Creek Watershed, which drains into the Broad River near the Eleazer home.

The property has been in the Eleazer family for 250 years. In 1750, Eleazer explains, a group of "destitute Germans" wrecked their ship at Cape Fear, North Carolina. These immigrants were farmers and in their search for fertile land, walked from Cape Fear to land that was then called Kings Grant. John Eleazer believes the Kings Grant area reminded the Germans of their homeland. Sixty- two acres of the land is now the Eleazer property.

"We live off our land. We farm. We garden. I like to think of it as a little piece of paradise," said John Eleazer. "Not many people, except architects and great painters, get to leave true beauty behind them.

The family understands they are the only people who can keep development away from their land. "The buck stops right here," Eleazer affirmed.

According to the Richland County Conservation Easement Program, A conservation easement is a legal agreement between the county and a landowner. It is voluntary and outlines the rights and restrictions on the owner's use of the property. An easement may allow a landowner to qualify for significant federal and/or state tax credits and or deductions.

The Eleazer family notes that in many counties, getting a conservation easement is an extremely expensive process. In Richland County, it is much simpler. The Eleazers were able to give their property to Richland County without expense. "Richland County took care of everything," Eleazer said.

For more information on conservation easements, contact the Richland County Conservation Comission at (803) 576-2084.

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