County moves closer to preserving farms Council OKs resolution to prevent development of 348-acre rural site

July 07, 1998|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County lost out on the $29 million Gov. Parris N. Glendening doled out last month to help preserve farms and environmentally sensitive land, but county officials are moving ahead anyway with plans to set aside farms, wetlands and riverside land.

The state panel reviewing applications for the first year of the Rural Legacy program rejected the county's request for $5 million to preserve some 900 acres in central and south county. But with more than $2 million from other state programs, county officials will still be able to halt development on most of those acres.

A large chunk of the targeted land came a step closer to preservation last night when the the Anne Arundel County Council approved a resolution urging the state to approve a request by a Harwood couple to designate their 248-acre Harwood Farm an agricultural land preservation district. Under that designation, Jean F. and Virginia M. Carlton would receive tax breaks in return for an agreement not to develop the land for 10 years.

The designation would further allow the county to purchase an easement on the property which would prevent development forever. The state would provide up to $600,000 for the purchase of the easement.

Officials were pleased to be able to preserve such a large tract and one with such high quality soil.

"It's an excellent example of agricultural preservation," said Barbara Polito, assistant director for planning with the County Department of Planning and Code Enforcement.

The Carlton farm is next to 640 acres already in a preservation district.

"One of the goals of our program is to protect as much contiguous property as we can," said John Morris, spokesman for the Department of Planning and Code Enforcement. "That's why it's significant."

Officials with the State Department of Natural Resources had already planned to set aside money for Anne Arundel's preservation efforts outside the Rural Legacy program, according to Grant Dehart, director of the department's Program Open Space.

That new program sparked stiff competition, with 23 counties requesting some $125 million in aid, more than four times what was available, to save woodlands, wetlands and farms.

Anne Arundel's proposal didn't make the cut this year, Dehart said, so assistance will come from Program Open Space instead.

In addition to money for the easement on the Carlton farm, the county will get up to $950,000 to buy 75 acres along the Severn River in Crownsville, known as the Green Cathedral; and up to $500,000 for easements or the outright purchase of 300 acres of wetlands next to the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in the county's southwestern corner.

Pub Date: 7/07/98

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