PA 490

                                                                                                                           Public Act 490

The creation of the PA 490

In  the late 1950's and early 1960's, there was a great deal of pressure to convert open space and undeveloped land to more intensive uses as Connecticut's population and Business industry grew.  As land prices soared, prohibitively high " fair market value" property assessments made it increasingly difficult for landowners to continue low intensity uses of their land.  At the same time, farmland was being rezoned for residential, commercial and industrial development.  As a result, land was being appraised and assessed at much higher values than for how the land was actually being used.  Resulting with many farmers and landowners having to sell their family lands to pay their real estate tax bills.  Pressure to develop did not stop with farmland.  Sportsman and other conservationists were alarmed at the loss of wildlife habitat as well as degradation of water quality.  Forest land, watersheds and other natural habitat areas were being purchased and developed into incompatible uses at an alarming rate.

Connecticut was one of the first states to enact current land use assessment legislation.  Today all states have programs in place to reduce local real estate property taxes on farmland, forestland and undeveloped open space.

In 1963, The Connecticut General Assembly enacted Public Act 63-490, an act concerning the taxation and preservation of farm, forest or open space, commonly referred to as "PA 490."

Public Act 490 is Connecticut's Land Use Value Assessment Law for Farm Land, Forest Land and Open Space Land--one of the most important laws to help preserve an agricultural, forest, and natural resource land base in Connecticut.

Please visit the CT Farm Bureau website for more information :

For more information on PA-490, visit:

Filing deadlines:

A certified Forester's Report must be dated no later than October 1st. All applications for classification of farm land and open space must be received by October 31.


            Frequently asked questions with having a PA 490 classification 

What is one of the most important pieces of information to understand when applying for the PA-490 classification?

  • If you have owned the land less than ten years and it is classified as PA 490 land, there is a conveyance tax that will apply if the land is sold, transferred or the land use has changed.  

What is a conveyance Tax and how does it work?

In 1971 the General Assembly initiated a penalty on the removal of land from  PA 490 classification as a means of further encouraging preservation and to diminish speculation. ( CGS 12-504a)

The tax is ten percent if sold, transferred or use is changed in the first year of classification and decreases by one percent per year each year until the ten year period is achieved.

  • Once you have placed your property under the PA 490 farmland, forest land or open space classification status with Willington, that property must remain so classified for ten years or you will incur a conveyance tax penalty.  The clock starts ticking for the conveyance from the time of ownership or time of classification, whichever comes earliest for farmland, forest land while open space classification is the start of classification.

Does the NEW owner of land that was under PA 490 classification by a former owner have to reapply for classification if he/she wants to continue with classification?

  • YES- classification ceases when there is a sale, transfer, or a change in land use. 
    • CGS: 12-504f was amended effective July 1, 2005 and now states:  " Upon the sale or Transfer of any such {classified} property, the classification...shall cease as of the date of sale or transfer..."section CGS 12-504h provides that classification is  "personal to the particular owner who requests and receives such classification" and does NOT run with the land itself.
    • Subsection (a) of CGS: 12-504c was amended effective October 1, 2014 and states that any time there is ownership change,except for transfers as listed in subsection (a) of CGS: 12-504c, in land that is classified as Farm, Forest, Open space or Maritime heritage land, an NEW application for classification must be filed with the Assessor.


  • forest land application ~ Definition of Forest Land Pursuant to subdivision (2) of §12-107b, the term "forest land" means “any tract or tracts of land aggregating twenty-five acres or more in area bearing tree growth that conforms to the forest stocking, distribution and condition standards established by the State Forester pursuant to subsection (a) of section 12-107d, and consisting of (A) one tract of land of twenty-five or more contiguous acres, which acres may be in contiguous municipalities, (B) two or more tracts of land aggregating twenty-five acres or more in which no single component tract shall consist of less than ten acres, or (C) any tract of land which is contiguous to a tract owned by the same owner and has been classified as forest land
  • A Certified Forester is a person who “… has satisfactorily completed training by and obtained a certificate from the State Forester or his or her designee related to policies and standards for evaluating land proposed for classification as forest land…
  • Assessor's do not maintain a listing of Certified Foresters, but forest land owners may obtain a list by calling the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Forestry Division at (860)424-3630, or by accessing the Forest Practitioner Directory at 
  • Annual application and renewal for PA 490 forest land classification is not required unless there is a change of land use or change of ownership.  
  • farm land application ~ The term “farm land” means any tract or tracts of land, including woodland and wasteland, and any underwater farmlands used for aquaculture, constituting a farm unit…Often it may be necessary for the Assessor to perform onsite visits.  The Assessor is directed to make the determination if land is farmland by taking several items into account CGS 12-107c:
  • open space application ~ To qualify for open space classification, you must have 5 acres or more.
  • Open space land, for use value purposes, must be designated as such on a Plan of Conservation and Development, as recommended by the town’s planning commission and subsequently approved by its legislative body. Land included in any area so designated may be classified as open space as long as there has been no change in the land’s use and its essential character has not been altered since the date the legislative body approved the town’s plan of development.
  • Department of Energy & Environmental Protection


The Last Green Valley (TLGV), the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership (MassConn) and the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District (NRICD) are pleased to offer a new opportunity for woodland landowners to obtain forest management plans with bird habitat assessments.This program is ideally suited for landowners who have never had a forest management plan and own more than 10 acres of woodlands.