4 west Howard farms get preservation OK

Small acreage abuts land already in county program

March 30, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Members of Howard County's agricultural land preservation board approved four applications to preserve small farms in the county's rural west last night.

The farms, all between 20 acres and 32.5 acres, became eligible for Howard's program last year when the County Council approved changes to include smaller farms adjacent to preserved property or county lands.

The program now oversees more than 13,000 acres.

Landowners who place their property under agricultural easements still own it, but agree not to develop the land in exchange for small payments over time. At the end of a 25- to 30-year period, they receive a larger lump sum.

Payments are determined by a formula that awards points based on characteristics such as the agricultural value of a property and development pressure. Three of the farms received 50 additional points offered at the discretion of the board.

County planning staff will develop final offers for the farm owners. Increased compensation could bring the average price per acre to $15,000, county staff said.

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