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Author Topic: Free State Project Land Trust?  (Read 9459 times)

MrLiberty

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Free State Project Land Trust?
« on: November 18, 2002, 01:57:20 pm »

I have a little bit of cash I'd like to use towards expanding the cause of liberty, and I've been wracking my brain on what to do with it.

I already take care of the organizations I feel are making a difference -- LRC, FMN, Cato, anti-state, etc.

But donating to another organization isn't in anyone's best interest.  If anything, we need fewer organizations with more coverage across the country.  What I really would love is something tangible -- something I can "see."

I've been chatting with a few libertarios about a possible land trust project.  We've been calling it the Free State Land Trust Project, but that's just because it came directly out of a FSP chat.

How would it work?  Well, selling "shares" that are held by the land trust, which are then used to purchase land in one (or the top 3) of the states the FSP is considering for moving in to.

Now, of course, no FSP government agency would own this land, but it might be a great start it giving some legitimacy for the program.  When the state is finally chosen, people will be on their own in buying or renting property, but my vision was forming a trust to purchase land and extend that ownership by purchasing properties touching the land already owned.  Whether it becomes a private forest preserve, or even rental property that we can use in the future for income, it might not be a bad way to actually get started.

What are we looking at?  $200,000 to buy a small plot of land, or even $50,000 to buy a smaller plot of land in 3 states?  $10 per share, 20000 shares needed to start it.

The FSP isn't looking for our money, just our signature, but I do believe that a little start might give us a lot more legitimacy.

Btw, the land trust idea isn't even the point -- having something physical is just as good... I just can't think of what "physical" item we could buy into as shareholders that would offer a possible income, low overhead, and give that legitimacy to the group.

Ideas?  Criticisms?

dada
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StMarc

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2002, 10:17:47 am »


Ideas?  Criticisms?

dada

I am an attorney. If there is interest in this idea, I will donate time pro bono to drawing up a charter for the Land Trust and advising on its formation as an entity and, if desired, its registration in a state. I think it's a good idea.

St. Marc
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MrLiberty

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2002, 12:02:57 pm »

That's awesome, actually I e-mailed a few attorneys already and asked if they were interested in helping out, but none of them had experience in real estate/property type trusts...

One thing that is important to me (and I assume many libertarians) is that no one work for free.  At the least, I would expect anyone actually using their professional abilities to take a small stipend, even if its not quite "minimum wage" :)

The first course is to find out if people are interest.  If stock shares are sold for only $10 each, and the deposit holdings are publicly reported monthly (to the shareholders) I think it shouldn't be too much of a dilemma to come up with enough money for the first land trust purchase.  I was thinking to start in NH, and then see how the polls go.  Remember, if we buy property in 3 states, we can sell the property from the states that don't become the FS (or we can keep them as external rental income down the road, or even extensions to the FS in other states to promote our foundation state).

Property is cheap, in general, as long as you're not going near a lake, river, ocean, or major suburban area.  Even if we only buy a condo or a small house in the boonies, we're not looking at much more than 10,000 - 20,000 shares sold @ $10 each.

I'm surprised I haven't heard much conversation about the idea -- whenever I've brought it up to libertarians who are fence-walking on the FSP idea, they all jump for the opportunity and offer up $10 to $20 each on the spot, but there's no trust to invest in yet :)

The other big thing is that this COULD very well give fencewalkers an option to invest in the FSP's goals without making their signatory committment -- and that's still important.  If enough land is purchased, it may give some of the land trust shareholders good reason to believe the FS is going to happen, and sign on board!

dada
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5pectre

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2002, 12:10:41 pm »

One thing that is important to me (and I assume many libertarians) is that no one work for free.

What is bad about working for free for a good cause? I love working for free (if the work is good and the cause just).
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Penfist

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2002, 12:23:46 pm »

I would like to commit at least $1,000 to this idea. Please let me know when you're ready for the check :)
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StMarc

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2002, 01:45:24 pm »

I would like to commit at least $1,000 to this idea. Please let me know when you're ready for the check :)

Make that check payable to...

No, seriously. It looks like people are considering this an investment opportunity. That's well and good, but if it is, then it needs to be a little more than a "land trust." We're looking at either forming some sort of partnership or opening a fully-fledged Real Estate Investment Trust. (REIT.) To use a technical legal term, that's heap big mojo.

My first inclination is to say that perhaps a Limited Liability Company or similar quasi-corporation might be better suited for this than a "trust." ("Trust" is a rather nebulous term in the law - it has a very specific meaning, but it's so broad that it can be applied to almost anything.)

The first level of questions that need to be answered are these:

1) Is this a for-profit endeavor?

2) If so, are you going to limit the number of investors?

There are lots of *other* questions that need to be answered, but those two will start the ball rolling.

St. Marc
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MrLiberty

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2002, 03:09:29 pm »

I was thinking about a REIT as well, but the biggest problem with any land ownership across a board of shareholders is maintenance and administration costs.

Are those costs levied as a per-share "maintenance" fee, or do we take money directly out of the fund?

For example, let us say that we create a REIT or a land trust or an organization that says we will not buy property but at $X,000 investment levels.  Money that is held before that level is placed in a money market or other "safe" fund until we reach the next milestone.

Upon reaching a certain level, we purchase property at half the value of the investment level.  The other half is placed into a seperate fund to be used for taxes, maintenance, and other long term costs.  After a certain amount of time (say, 2-3 years), we'll know the fixed costs of maintenance and taxes, and can refund the left over money from the seperate fund back into the general investment fund.  Example:  at a $100,000 level, we would collect investments until we hit that point.  Then, we would invest $50,000 into property (park, condo, house, retail).  The other $50,000 would go into a fund specifically for taxes and maintenance of the property.  After 2-3 years, we'd spend say $15,000 on that property (hopefully offset by rental of the property to an end tenant), and $20,000 of investment in that property, so we'd transfer $5,000 in profit + $50,000 in initial transfer back to our general fund to be used for future property purchases.  Maybe we'd keep a year or two of maintenance costs in that fund for emergencies or unforseen circumstances.

Upon creation of the free state, we could then offer the property at a reasonable rate to free staters (maybe investors in the fund even?) and then use the new funds to purchase more properties to expand our land holdings.

I'd love to do it less scattered though -- maybe a focus on one particular area in one particular city.  

There is no need to focus only on one state -- if we can find enough people even willing to just invest $100 a year into such an investment, there is _NO_ reason we can't buy 2-4 properties a year in various states, and then sell those properties off when the free state is actually picked.  Property is cheap -- condos in some places can be bought for $30,000 to $60,000l; bare land can be bought for $10,000 to $30,000.  

If we have a realtor who is a free state member, we can even try to get a reduced fee for the property transactions.

As to donating your time -- if you think its for a good cause, I think its a worth volunteering, but this is such an important project that I'd rather have it being a real contract between a producer (lawyer) and consumer (trust shareholders).  That bonds the deal better than saying "well, I'm doing it for free, so I can only give you the time I have at the end of the day."  You generally get what you pay for :)

I honestly think this could work, because I personally could see myself investing $100 to $1000 a month into property like this, and I think many more of you out there could see reason to do a regular investment yourselves.  Having property is what the free state is about -- completely private property, of course.  But buying that property now is a good way of saying "we're legit" and also putting some signs up saying "This is a Free State Project property!" would really be a great way of showing people that we're serious, and getting some name recognition.

I see it all the time: "This is a City of Chicago project!" and I laugh.  

dada
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2002, 10:40:55 pm »

Note: you couldn't actually use the name "Free State Project" in this endeavor.  As the FAQ states, the organization itself can't be involved in any land deals.  If FSP members want to get together and buy some land, that's fine and dandy.
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"Educate your children, educate yourselves, in the love for the freedom of others, for only in this way will your own freedom not be a gratuitous gift from fate. You will be aware of its worth and will have the courage to defend it." --Joaquim Nabuco (1883), Abolitionism

cathleeninsc

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2002, 08:08:56 am »

How about "Free State" being used in private business endeavors? Should it be restricted? I can see both advantages and disadvantages. The association would be there and that would be positive in that it makes the "movement" bigger and broader in scope, but opens the possibility of confusion.

Cathleen in SC
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Penfist

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2002, 09:45:15 am »

How about "Free State" being used in private business endeavors? Should it be restricted? I can see both advantages and disadvantages. The association would be there and that would be positive in that it makes the "movement" bigger and broader in scope, but opens the possibility of confusion.

Cathleen in SC

It wouldn't seem to me you could restrict such a generic term, even if you wanted to. I can't imagine people are not going to establish businesses with names like The Free State Automotive Repair Center or The Free State Cafe. The Free State Project Cafe would be an entirely different issue.
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2002, 09:56:53 am »

"Free State" by itself should probably be fine, as would "Porcupine" or similar identifiers.
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mtPete

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2002, 10:10:40 am »

my vision was forming a trust to purchase land and extend that ownership by purchasing properties touching the land already owned.  Whether it becomes a private forest preserve, or even rental property that we can use in the future for income, it might not be a bad way to actually get started.

potentially good idea, but careful. If your talking buying exhisting residential or business property for FSPers no problem. If your talking buying cheap land for developement, could have some local resentment but still no problem. B

ut if you start talking about forest preserves and such you are associating yourself with environmentallists who buy up rural land for the purposes of taking if out of resource production (oil, ag, timber, etc). And there is no surer way to get on the sh!t list in say Wyoming than to associate yourself with that ilk.
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ThePHNX

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2003, 10:59:40 am »

I am planning to purchase / invest / design-build in a free state, two things;
  • Multi-Family Housing / Apartment House (acquire and/or design build)
  • Motor Yacht for charter cruising (Prout or customized Carri-Craft)

I will consider limited partners in either venture.

I will NOT invest in New Hampshire.
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lloydbob1

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2003, 05:10:40 pm »

I am planning to purchase / invest / design-build in a free state, two things;
  • Multi-Family Housing / Apartment House (acquire and/or design build)
  • Motor Yacht for charter cruising (Prout or customized Carri-Craft)

I will consider limited partners in either venture.

I will NOT invest in New Hampshire.
If not New Hampshire, what the Hell ya gonna do with the boat?
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Mike Lorrey

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Re:Free State Project Land Trust?
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2003, 04:05:55 pm »

In fact, there is already such a venture forming, called the Galt's Gulch Project. It's aim is to purchase 650,00 acres of land in NH and Maine that are part of one big timber company land deal. We'll sell off the Maine lands to pay off the stockholders initial investments. The remaining lands in NH will be the profit that will be dispersed to the stockholders upon the dissolution of the corporation.
 
Those interested email to
galtsgulch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
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