is the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank?
do I have to give them my money, and what is the money
The Martha's Vineyard Land Bank is
a conservation entity charged with the task of acquiring,
holding and managing a diversity of important open space
resources for the use and enjoyment of the general public.
To accomplish this task the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank
imposes a 2% real estate transfer fee which is levied against
the purchase price on most real estate transfers on Martha's
Yes, it's true --- you will have to shell out 2% of the
total purchase price of your new property on Martha's Vineyard
in the form of a fee, due in full at the time of closing.
This is not a tax and there is no way around it.
However, first-time home buyers can get a break in the form
of the "M" Exemption.
What is the First-Time Home
Buyer “M” Exemption? I always find
it interesting to look back at the policy changes on subjects
relating to real estate. Here is a rundown of changes in
how the Land Bank has offered assistance to first-time home
Definition: First-time purchasers of real estate who are
eligible will receive a credit toward the Land Bank Fee
of 2% of the purchase price of real estate on Martha’s
Prior to September 1, 2004, the “M” exemption
was $100,000 and in order to qualify all parties on the
Deed may not have ever owned real property at any time,
not just on Martha’s Vineyard but anywhere.
Subsequently, the credit was increased to $300,000 and the
exemption was available to first-time purchasers of real
estate who would be required to domicile on the property
within two years and hold the property for at least five
years from the date of transfer. In the case of spouses,
either spouse could have owned or possessed an interest
in real property prior to the time of purchase, but not
Then on December 5, 2011, per a continuation of a previous
amendment to the land bank law, first time purchasers would
be able to continue claiming the "M" exemption
and the exemption was increased to $425,000.
On September 1, 2012, the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank changed
the law and once again in order to qualify all parties on
the Deed may not have ever owned real property at any time,
not just on Martha’s Vineyard but anywhere. All of
the other requirements of the "M" exemption were
unchanged under the Enabling
Legislation Section 12m . As I recall, the reason for
the change was because the credit was being abused by real
At the end of 2017, an amendment to the Land Bank policy
raised the "M" Exemption threshold from $425,000
to $450,000 effective January 1, 2018. Then on January 1, 2019 the treshold was raised once again to $480,000 with all other requirements
of the "M" Exemption unchanged.
On January 1, 2020 the Land
Bank again increased the "First-Time Home Buyer Exemption. It is now $565,000 with all other requirements remaining the same. REMEMBER: The "M" Exemption only applies to those Buyers who have NEVER owned a home anywhere -- in the world, not just on Martha's Vineyard
home-buyers who have received an "M" exemption
for all or part of the land bank fee routinely have a lien
recorded against their property at the Dukes County registry
of deeds. The lien is to ensure that the land bank will
be notified if the owner attempts to sell the property,
which is subject to the lien, before the five-year residency
requirement has been completed. Sales within this five-year
period will trigger the fee to become due and payable to
the land bank, which may also include interest and penalties."
Other wonderful conservation entities
committed to acquiring and preserving the natural resources
on this Island are: The Nature Conservancy (TNC), The Vineyard
Open Land Foundation (VOLF), Sheriff's Meadow Foundation,
Trustees of Reservations, etc.). However, the Land Bank
is the agency that you will first encounter, so let's find
out something about them.
Why do we need a Land Bank
on Martha's Vineyard Island?
Martha's Vineyard has witnessed unprecedented change in
the most recent decades. Farming declined; centuries-old
pastures and fields were left to knot into vines and shrubs.
The "freedom to roam" was curtailed as fences were erected
across trails, beaches were gated off and hunting was restricted.
Few of these problems could be solved by planning boards
and conservation commissions only; the Vineyard needed a
new type of land agency. In the midst of an upward spiraling
building boom, island voters created the land bank in 1986
and charged it with reversing their losses.
More than 20 years have elapsed, and more than 2700 acres
have now been conserved. Although this sounds impressive,
it is actually small; just 4% of the land area on the island.
The commission's revenue-generated by a 2% public surcharge
on most real estate transfers occurring in the six towns-is
modest compared to need, ensuring that islanders can expect
the Land Bank to protect only a fraction of their community.
And this money must go far. Farmers,
hikers, beach-combers, birders, hunters, and many others
are all constituents of the Land Bank, and all deserve to
have some land set aside for their special needs.
Fortunately, the Land Bank's private-sector counterparts
help out. Private trusts on the island such as the Sheriff's
Meadow Foundation and the Nature Conservancy specialize
in creating wildlife sanctuaries of their lands. Their extraordinary
work across the Vineyard frees the Land Bank to pursue a
more diverse mission, where some Land Bank properties are
reserved for wildlife and others are used for agriculture,
hunting, and other types of conservation uses.
Balance is key in Land Bank property management. Environmental
protection leads the list of Land Bank goals, with public
access encouraged where and when possible. Trails avoid
sensitive areas, signs advise of special precautions visitors
need take, and attendants are hired when necessary to oversee
The Land Bank is a rare breed. Neither a sanctuary program
nor a park system, it is a middle ground where the highest
virtues of conservation can be realized: public enjoyment
of nature, where limits and restraint secure the natural
world's future and prosperity.
Visiting Martha's Vineyard
Land Bank Properties
Land bank properties are, except during the hunting season,
open daily to the general public from sunrise to sundown.
Trails are marked throughout and boundary markers indicate
where public land ends and private land begins.
The land bank posts map signs at many properties' trailheads
and is installing others where needed. Hand-held maps of
each property showing their trail networks and natural features
are available at the land bank office and at some trailheads.
The land bank has begun to make a number of its properties
more accessible to people who use wheelchairs and to people
who have difficulty walking or other disabilities. Pecoy
Point Preserve (off Pulpit Rock Road in Oak Bluffs) and
Great Rock Bight Preserve (off North Road in Chilmark) feature
boardwalks, hardened trails, and parking spaces designed
to accommodate those with mobility impairments. Great Rock
Bight Preserve also offers an accessible toilet. Chappy
Point Beach in Edgartown features an accessible trailhead
and boardwalk with views of Edgartown harbor. The slopes
and surfaces of these trails may still pose difficulty to
some disabled visitors; some disabled visitors may require
assistance. Universal access improvements are underway or
planned for a number of other properties, including Farm
Pond Preserve, Featherstone Farm, Chappy Five Corners Preserve,
and Duarte's Pond. You can either call the land bank office
for a copy of a map which shows each property and provides
directions, or follow this link to view a Map
To All Land Bank Properties .
Guided walks conducted by the land bank's scientific and
management staff are scheduled regularly. The land bank
also sponsors a day-long cross-island hike on National Trails
Day, which is the first Saturday in June. Watch the island
newspapers for details.
"Why do we need a Land Bank on Martha's Vineyard Island?"
and "Visiting Martha's Vineyard Land Bank Properties" provided
by the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank