1,484 acres approved for preservation 12 parcels in Carroll recommended for program

May 28, 1998|By John Murphy | John Murphy,SUN STAFF

Carroll's farmland preservation program received parcels totaling 1,484 acres yesterday in one of its largest acquisitions of the decade when the County Commissioners approved keeping the sites free of development for at least five years.

Twelve parcels, ranging from 25 acres to 172 acres, were recommended for designation as agricultural preservation districts, the first step needed to preserve the land permanently.

Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Richard T. Yates voted in favor of the proposal. Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown was absent.

The State Agricultural Preservation Foundation will make a final decision on the designations next month.

If approved, the designation will move the county another step closer to its goal of preserving 100,000 acres for agricultural use by 2020.

Since the program was begun in 1979, 25,679 acres have been preserved and another 18,037 are in agricultural preservation districts.

"We have a ways to go. After 20 years, we are still going to be a little short of having a third [of the 100,000 acres] preserved," said William Powel, director of the county's agricultural land preservation program.

Before landowners can ask the state to buy easements to keep their property from being developed, the land must be designated as an agricultural preservation district.

If the properties are approved as agricultural preservation districts next month, they would be evaluated by the state in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The state takes about a year to make appraisals and do other work to decide which properties will be preserved.

Competition for farmland preservation funds is stiff. About three out of every five Carroll County landowners seeking easements will be approved by the state.

The average price paid per acre for Carroll easements last year was $1,835, up from previous years. Since the beginning of the program, nearly $30 million in state and county funds has been spent preserving farmland, Powel said.

Landowners who fail to win easements this year are eligible to apply again.

Pub Date: 5/28/98

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