Open Space

The open space tax law provides for the valuation of land which has been classified as open space land based on its current use an open space, rather than its potential fair market value for more intensive uses other than open space. The purpose of this bulletin is to explain the more important features of this law.

Requirement for Classification
Minimum Size
There is no minimum acreage requirement for open space. However, minimum acres and setbacks for non-conforming use must be excluded from classification

The tract must be preserved or restricted in use to provide a public benefit by:
  • Conserving scenic resources
  • Enhancing public recreation opportunities
  • Preserving wildlife or wildlife habitat
  • Promoting game management
Developed Lands
Any building or improvement areas are excluded from classification as open space land. Each excluded area must include at least the minimum lot size and, for improvements within the 250 foot shoreland area (75 feet on streams), the minimum shoreland frontage required by the applicable minimum lot standards or zoning ordinance for the area in which the land is located, whichever is larger. The shoreland frontage requirement is waived if:
  • The affected frontage is part of a contiguous shore path or a beach for which there is or will be, once classified, regular and substantial use by the public
  • The legislative body of the municipality determines that a public benefit will be served by preventing future development near the shore or by securing access for the public on the particular shoreland area that would otherwise be excluded from classification