Carroll adds 448 acres to ag preservation

The Board of Carroll County Commissioners Thursday approved conservation easements on six properties totaling nearly 450 acres.

This is the second installment of agricultural easements approved by the commissioners this summer. Commissioners previously approved the first seven conservation easements June 20, adding 676 acres to the county's preservation program.

The county is in the process of adding up to 3,000 acres to agricultural preservation by the end of this year and could have about 65,000 acres if the current cycle of applicants are all approved by commissioners, according to Deborah Bowers, an agricultural specialist with the county.

Easements approved this year are the first in two years to be purchased after the commissioners asked a task force be created to study the county's preservation program. A change in the preservation program stemming from the task force is allowing the county to purchase easements through a lump sum payment in addition of tax free interest installments over a 20-year period.

Property owners on four of the easements approved Thursday opted for the newly offered lump sum payment.

About half of the expected easement applicants chose the lump sum payment option, according to Ralph Robertson, the county's agricultural land preservation program manager.

The easements purchased by the county Thursday total about $2 million. The first round of easements approved in June totaled about $2.75 million. The county and property owners of easements approved Thursday must still proceed through the easement settlement stage.

One application for the county's agricultural preservation program was tabled after Commissioner Richard Rothschild questioned whether the county was paying too much on one property for only three subdivision lot rights.

The county was prepared to pay about $743,000 for 119 acres, or about $6,246 per acre, along Hunters Choice Drive in Westminster. It was the second highest price per acreage out of the applications presented to the commissioners.

Commissioners also approved two conservation easements totaling 44 acres to be funded through the state's Rural Legacy Program.

These two easements totaled about $219,000.

Properties approved for county conservation easements include:

• 51.89 acres at 2407 W. Liberty Rd. in Westminster owned by Sharon Davis, Jennifer Kladny and Robert Kladny. Purchased for $356,272.

• 90.65 acres at 4035 and 4037 Baptist Road in Taneytown owned by Grant Smith Jr. and Kremelda Smith. Purchased for $378,000.

• 206.32 acres at 10 W. Deep Run Road in Westminster owned by Gail Rogers. Purchased for $1,011,500.

• 54.5 acres at 4235 Maple Grove Road in Hampstead owned by Catherine Strevig. Purchased for $300,000.

Properties approved for the Rural Legacy Program conservation easement include:

• 31.83 acres at 2800 Carrollton Road in Finksburg owned by Randolph and Winifred Bandy. Purchased for $154,636.50.

• 13.1 acres at 201 Rockland Road in Westminster owned by Edwin Gregg and Nancy Gregg. Purchased for $65,000.

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