The county's easement review policy, created in 2007, considers the applicant's effects on preservation, growth management and agricultural economic development. The policy also considers the impact on protected lands in the vicinity and asks for an evaluation on the property's value.
Not only will the Mullinixes have to prove farming is not profitable on their land, they will also have to pay the state the calculated easement value of the property. Easement value is calculated by subtracting the agricultural value of a property from its fair market value.
Howard County has the highest per acre easement value in the state, according to West.
The Mullinixes will have to pay the easement value of today, not what the value was when they agreed to easements more than 25 years ago, she said.
By being granted a termination from the easement, the family could sell some of the land to a developer. But Mullinix said that isn't why the family is seeking a termination.
"You always say 'No' until somebody starts waving a lot of money," he said regarding the possibility. "Right now, we have no plans to go anywhere."
Mullinix said he would like to see the property stay in the family and to continue farming, but that may not be possible.
"They (family) see how hard we work and the little returns we get back," he said.
The state preservation foundation has until April 1 to make a decision on the Mullinix application, which was accepted Oct. 1, West said.
Despite the challenges they face, Mullinix said he is hopeful the family will prevail.
"We'll let it all ride and let the courts decide," he said.
The Nov. 15 hearing will be held in the dining hall at the Howard County Fairgrounds, beginning at 6 p.m.