Photo: Rob Howard

60 Acres of Farmland Overlooking Skaneateles Lake Conserved Forever

The Land Trust accepted the donation of a conservation easement that will forever conserve over 60 scenic acres overlooking Skaneateles Lake’s eastern shore.

Located on Eibert Road in the town of Spafford, Onondaga County, the property is owned by Gil and Melinda Weatherly, and has been in Melinda’s family for three generations.

Photo: FLLT

Photo: Zack Odell

Originally purchased by Melinda’s grandfather, and later farmed by her parents, the property was eventually passed down to Melinda and her brother. Melinda and her husband Gil wanted to keep the open space and agricultural values of their parcel intact, but were unsure how to balance that with future financial stability.

The scenic corridor along the eastern side of Skaneateles Lake is under intense development pressure due to the views and aesthetic quality of the land. “We came upon the concept of donating development rights, and the more we talked about it, the more it made sense,” Gil said, “especially for Melinda.” Having grown up with the property, the last thing Melinda wanted was to see the property subdivided for housing development.

The easement will allow for continued agricultural use of the land by an adjacent farmer. Gil and Melinda will be able to move to the original farmhouse, enjoying the views with the knowledge that future generations will be able to do the same. “It gives us great pleasure, to know it’s not going to change,” said Gil Weatherly.

The Skaneateles Lake watershed provides drinking water for 220,000 area residents, including people living in the city of Syracuse. Easements serve as one way landowners can protect areas critical to managing water quality in the watershed.

Conservation easements are legal agreements that limit future development while allowing land to remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls. Landowners who donate conservation easements may be eligible for both state and federal tax benefits.