Meeting with private landowner, what questions to ask?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Meeting with private landowner, what questions to ask?

    We've been contacted by a local landowner who has a heavily used trail on his property. At first he contacted us regarding potential development of his land, and how best to preserve/relocate the trail. It's a huge chunk of land.

    Now, he's talking about additional recreational use ; perhaps bringing in a trail designer for additional routes like bike path connectors ( for commuters) and ??

    Any one have any input on how to prepare for this meeting? Our trail boss has met with him a few times, but I'm looking for insight on how to formualte a plan. thanks!!

    Formica

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by formica
    We've been contacted by a local landowner who has a heavily used trail on his property. At first he contacted us regarding potential development of his land, and how best to preserve/relocate the trail. It's a huge chunk of land.

    Now, he's talking about additional recreational use ; perhaps bringing in a trail designer for additional routes like bike path connectors ( for commuters) and ??

    Any one have any input on how to prepare for this meeting? Our trail boss has met with him a few times, but I'm looking for insight on how to formualte a plan. thanks!!

    Formica
    Hmm..... Something like what's his favorite beer, wine, coffee?

    More seriously. Maybe just start by asking about any long and short-term concerns and what his vision is for the property. Ask what concerns his family members or neighbors might have.

    Do you have the IMBA Trail Solutions book? It has helped us work with land managers and sponsors. Helped by easily illustrating final product.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    For profit?

    If he is looking to make money off of the proposition, it changes the liability issue a lot, at least in the state of Wisconsin.

    Non-profit ventures have considerable immunity from liability that for-profit ones do not share. In either case, this does not prevent lawsuits from being filed. But your state may not have the same regulations. IANAL, please check with someone who knows the law in your state.

    I assume you have had some conversations with the trail manager about what the scope of the project is and if your volunteer base is sufficient to get the job done. What kind of time frame are you looking at? My sense of the matter is that a multi-year project is a more difficult sell than a single year project.

    Walt

  4. #4
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    All I've got time for is a quick note. There's a trail up by Pacifica that goes across private land with the knowledge of the landowner. He's OK with folks using the trail, but not OK with stunts or other modifications from "natural conditions". I think its the modifications that expose the landowner to liability...

  5. #5
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    lessee, not for profit.

    Right now I'm thinking look up the state recreational statutes, and get the list of trail contractors off the IMBA site.

    I assume you have had some conversations with the trail manager about what the scope of the project is and if your volunteer base is sufficient to get the job done. What kind of time frame are you looking at? My sense of the matter is that a multi-year project is a more difficult sell than a single year project.
    Haha, there is no trail manager for the site, yet. There's me and few other folks, the scale we are working is pretty miniscule compared to some of the organizations you guys are with. Getting more folks on board is a different thread.

    What IS cool is that this piece of property links up to the bike park with a chunk of utililty land in between.

    formica

  6. #6
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    Hi Again,

    So I just got home and re-read your first post. It sounds to me like the landowner 1) wants to develop his property, but not face organized opposition from the trail using community or a court fight over the apparently long established use of the trail across his property, so is willing to work with you to re-route; and 2) thinks that additional trails would be an amenity to whatever development he is thinking about.

  7. #7
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    I will know more after the thurs meeting. Our "trail boss" has had a couple of sit downs so far but now things are expanding.

  8. #8
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    my first thougt

    If I read your post right, if he asked for the meeting, the first thing I would do is ask what he has in mind.

    sounds like it was nice call to have recieved though.

  9. #9
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    Potential questions to ask:

    1. What users would you like to include? (This can affect the lay out and construction.)
    2. What facilities do you plan to provide, i.e. parking, trash cans, rest rooms, etc.?
    3. What areas of the property will be off limits? (Archeological? Historical? Private?)
    4. On that note, what are the positive and negative control points for this trail system?
    5. Do you want one large loop or a stacked loop system? (Advocate the stacked loop if he has room.)
    6. How do you plan to control access, and what are the access hours?
    7. If the land owner wil be asking volunteers to build trail, get an agreement made that stipulates free access for x-number of hours worked.


    Feel free to email me with any specific questions. dewayne @ talontrails.com (without the spaces.)

    As far as contractors on IMBA's web site, it may not be up to date. Call Scott Linnenburger to get the most current ones for your area. Also consult the Professional Trailbuilders Association web site. I'm working on getting sponsored to be a member and listed on the site.

    Dewayne

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    Potential questions to ask:

    1. What users would you like to include? (This can affect the lay out and construction.)
    2. What facilities do you plan to provide, i.e. parking, trash cans, rest rooms, etc.?
    3. What areas of the property will be off limits? (Archeological? Historical? Private?)
    4. On that note, what are the positive and negative control points for this trail system?
    5. Do you want one large loop or a stacked loop system? (Advocate the stacked loop if he has room.)
    6. How do you plan to control access, and what are the access hours?
    7. If the land owner wil be asking volunteers to build trail, get an agreement made that stipulates free access for x-number of hours worked.


    Feel free to email me with any specific questions. dewayne @ talontrails.com (without the spaces.)

    As far as contractors on IMBA's web site, it may not be up to date. Call Scott Linnenburger to get the most current ones for your area. Also consult the Professional Trailbuilders Association web site. I'm working on getting sponsored to be a member and listed on the site.

    Dewayne
    That was great. I used some of those yesterday.

    So here's the deal. 200 acres of private land, with a 2 mile long trail that is a heavily used, mtb, favorite trail. The guy is getting ready to develop his land, but instead of carving it up into mcmansion lots, he's interested in clusters, preserving as much of the existing trail and/or rerouting it, and maybe some sort stacked loop system relating to his development, from maybe paved bike paths around the development, to public access to the singletrack. This property abuts a ridge line that is part city, county, private and utility that features many trails.

    This is the developer's compromise concept.In the past he's been completely blocked on this kind of stuff by the 100% preservationists, but I look at it this way... I'd rather work with someone to come up with an effective compromise that benefits many users, than fight him, and have the land be sold off to someone who really doesn't care at all.

    I'm not sure where we ( our club, tiny as it is) fits into the scheme. I get to meet with his planners/architects next week, which should be interesting.These are the same folks who are designing the new whitewater park, so they have a good grasp of blending different needs of the community.

    So, next question is..... anyone ever worked on anything like this?

  11. #11
    Builder of Trails
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    Quote Originally Posted by formica
    So, next question is..... anyone ever worked on anything like this?
    der
    I've written an MOU to be used with a private land owner and have also worked with city/county/state/federal offiicals.

    I think you should try to include other stakeholders to bolster your numbers and to better represent those interested in a trail system on that piece of land. Talk to the local hiking club, trail runners, etc., to see if they're interested in helping establish a great trail system.

    If you can get that to happen, you can present a united front to the developer. If there's an HOA that will represent the home owners in the area, definitely include them. One of the communities I'm working in has an HOA with a trail committee taht holds meeting to decide where new trail will go, what maintenance items need to be repaired, etc. They have a powerful voice with the developer.

    Good luck!

    Dewayne

  12. #12
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    The MOU would be a great start. Also the imba trail solutions has an entire chapter on this subject.
    Downhill Mike

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by formica

    So, next question is..... anyone ever worked on anything like this?
    Sorta. I value proposed subdivisions for lending purposes, so I've "seen" quite a few ways developers will make offers to get what they want at the end. Also build a little trail from time to time and negotiate with landowners.

    Maybe not the first question, but the most important question should be to find out how "durable" this trail system will be. "durable" as in how long can you expect it to exist before the landowner (or the pending home owners association of the proposed development??) changes his mind and has you booted from the trail network.

    A very "durable" situation would be for the developer to "proffer" (that's give) a public right-of-way over the trail corridor. The right-of-way could even be defined as the trail corridor, where ever the trail is, so that if the trail needs rerouting, it is easily done. This is something you might be able to work with your county planning department and maybe parks and rec with. In some areas developers are frequently coersed into giving greenways, right-of-ways, parks etc in order to obtain a rezoning. If your land is already zoned for this cluster or by-right development, then you won't have any leverage for a proffer.

    Next in durability, you can still try to get an easement for your club to use the trails. It would likely involve a lawyer and recording deed of easement at you county Clerks office. The easement could be for however long you can negotiate, 5, 10 years, 2 months, whatever.

    Next in durability would be an MOU. It sorta lays out what each party intends to do, but its not legally binding. It would be good to do one with the easement.

    Last in durability is the verbal agreement. A witness or two is usually a good thing.

    Be careful that the developer isn't just using you to construct an amenity that he will then use as a marketing tool for his subdivision. Without a guarantee now, it is unlikely you'll get 20 homeowners to agree to anything in 2 years.

    --Will

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fattirewilly
    Be careful that the developer isn't just using you to construct an amenity that he will then use as a marketing tool for his subdivision. Without a guarantee now, it is unlikely you'll get 20 homeowners to agree to anything in 2 years.
    Thats an important statement.

    If their is a possibility deal with as few people as possible, i.e. if a slight reroute will work an entire land owner out of the picture, do it right away.

    Also dealing with a government organisation such as a local council is better since such an organisation is directly accountable to the public/ eg voters. Whereas when dealing with a private land owner any deal will be entirely at the mercy of the person who legally owns the land.

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