Carroll commissioners to rule on protecting additional land

657 acres proposed for preservation

April 11, 2001|By Jamie Manfuso | Jamie Manfuso,SUN STAFF

The Carroll commissioners will decide today whether to add 657.35 acres - mostly near Taneytown and Lineboro - to the state's farmland preservation program.

The commissioners will vote after a public hearing on the petitions to add nine parcels to the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program. Carroll's planning commission and the county's Agricultural Preservation Board have recommended approving the petitions.

If the commissioners approve the petitions, the decision on the parcels would go before the board of the State Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation on April 24 for final approval for designation in the program.

If approved, the acreage would be designated as preservation districts. That would qualify the land to be considered for permanent preservation through the sale of an easement to the state.

In buying the easement, the state purchases all development rights. In the first step of this process, owners become eligible to sell an easement, but are not obligated to do so.

"Most of these farms are building on contiguous blocks of easement property, which is a strong priority of the program," said Bill Powel, Carroll's agricultural land preservation program administrator.

"Some of them that are smaller will help us to prevent development from occurring where we already have a good deal of easement acres," Powel said.

He noted that two parcels near Taneytown, owned by Dennis James Harner and Mary Wantz Harner, would be part of 20 contiguous properties in the program.

Powel said he would be surprised if opposition is raised to the proposals.

Under the state program, property owners must commit to allowing no development of the preservation districts for at least five years.

At the end of the five years, they may request removal of the land from the program if the state has not purchased an easement by then.

Carroll County is one of the leaders nationwide in agricultural preservation. Through the state's program, which began in the 1970s, the county has 48,500 acres of farmland designated as preservation districts.

Of that land, 31,600 acres are under permanent easement. The owners of the remaining 16,900 acres have not sold easements to the state.

Sun staff writer Brenda J. Buote contributed to this article.

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