The county's planning board yesterday approved asking the state to make three farms -- a total of more than 433 acres -- eligible for Maryland's agricultural preservation program.
If their request is approved by the state in July, owners of the land would have to refrain from development for five years for their land to be considered an "agricultural preservation district." It is a first step in preserving the land by selling the state development rights.
The parcels are:
86.57 acres owned by Dorothy F. Munshaur and her brother, Russell L. Fogelsong, at 3005 Mayberry Road in Westminster.
200.64 acres, for which Lippy Brothers Inc. is the contract purchaser. The land is southeast of the intersection of Old Bachman's Valley Road and New Bachman's Valley Road.
146 acres, for which Donald A. Leister is the contract purchaser. The land is at 601 Mathias Road, east of Route 140 on the Pennsylvania line. The original farm includes land across the state line, which is being considered for preservation easements in Pennsylvania, said William Powel, Carroll County's agricultural preservation director.
The three farms have been approved by the county's Agricultural Preservation Board. The Lippy and Leister properties have applied for the county's Critical Farms Program, which forwards money to save farms until state funds come through.
The county has advertised its intent to pay $224,593 for development rights to the land the Lippy Brothers are buying, and $164,250 toward the land Leister is buying.
If no objections are raised by the public by tomorrow, the county commissioners are expected to approve the purchases.
If the state agrees to purchase the development rights from Lippy Brothers and Leister, which can take several years, the owners must refund that money to the county.
"It's a revolving fund for new purchasers," Powel said. It is designed to help farmers who want to purchase the land to compete with developers who would pay a higher price.
Munshaur and Fogelsong's farm is not being sold, but they have indicated that they will apply this summer to sell development rights to the state, Powel said.
Usually, the state's preservation program requires a farm to be at least 100 acres. The Munshaur property meets two conditions that would allow it an exception: It is adjacent to another farm that is in the agricultural preservation district, and it has soil capability that is better than the county average.
Powel said the soil capability is what will qualify the farm, because it is unclear whether the owner of the adjacent, larger farm will be selling development rights.