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Conservation Easement

2005 - 2006

September: Orange County Commissioners approve purchase of a conservation easement for 45 acres of the Keith Arboretum, an 81-acre property on Marions Ford Road in rural Orange County, North Carolina, then owned by Dr. Charles R. Keith. 
Commissioners approve paying $116,000 in Lands Legacy Opportunities Funds to Dr. Keith to permanently protect the conservation values of the property.

"Expressly prohibited" activities and uses include:

  • Commercial development (see above)
  • Agricultural and grazing uses (see above)
  • Commercial timbering 
The easement limits construction of a "new building for use as a visitor center or for other research and educational purposes related to the Arboretum" to a footprint of less than 1,000 square feet, within a designated building envelope location.

Click to see easement documents:



December: Unique Places to Save, a North Carolina nonprofit, purchases the Charles R. Keith Arboretum, Ltd., 19-acre tract.

On the same day, Unique Places to Save transfers 19 acres of the same property to Pickoretum LLC, a "Real estate/rental" company incorporated one month earlier.

Pickoretum LLC also purchases the remaining multiple tracts.

Unique Places to Save and Pickoretum LLC are managed by the same developer.


Keith Arboretum house is listed for rent on AirBnB for $190/night, with a total of 36 reviews by renters posted from July 2016 to October 2017. 

Descriptions of the property on Keith Arboretum Facebook page include "Vacation Home Rental," "Landmark House & Historic Site" and "Performance & Event Venue."

RomrShare LLC is incorporated by the manager of Pickoretum LLC. A "Romr" website lists prices for day passes and overnight stays at the Keith Arboretum. According to a Town of Chapel Hill Launch spotlight, "Romr's flagship property in Chapel Hill is the 20 acre Charles R. Keith Arboretum."


    March: Beehives are installed at Keith Arboretum by a Durham urban beekeeping for-profit company.

    October: Pickoretum LLC owner meets with two Orange County commissioners, county manager and assistant manager, and staff from the county Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks & Recreation (DEAPR). 

    According to an October 12 DEAPR staff memo, several county commissioners and staff "met with staff from Unique Places to Save at their request, to discuss their future plans for what they call "Pickoretum," and how it may impact the terms of the conservation easement. DEAPR staff is currently working with Unique Places to Save to ensure the proposed development on the property does not violate the terms of the Orange County Conservation Easement."

    Click to see documents:



    March: Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) agenda includes a resolution to amend the 2005 conservation easement to allow uses requested by the new property owner, including expanding the residence, doubling the new building footprint and allowing agriculture "to raise bees, or to permit others to raise bees, and to graze sheep." The item is tabled. The original 2005 easement agreement and deed are not provided in the agenda packet.

    April: County DEAPR staff present the resolution with amendments to the resolution for signature at BOCC meeting. The original 2005 easement agreement and deed are not provided in the agenda packet. BOCC tables the item following public comments.

    Community members follow up with a request to meet with commissioners and receive this response from county attorney:

    "I've been asked to provide an initial response to your request to meet with the Board of Commissioners.  Due to the possibility that this issue may end up in litigation a meeting between the Board and the neighbors of the property that may be at the center of the potential litigation is not advisable for the County."

    Click to see documents:



    From Keith Arboretum website:

    "You can reserve the farmstead for the day for receptions or for an entire weekend for a wedding party or corporate retreat.   Available starting in April 2018, a large covered deck and veranda will also be available for events, dinner parties and receptions.  Seating will be available for 100."
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