Planners, farmers frustrated by inaction on rural plan


Frustration seemed to be the general feeling among Harfor planners and farmers after inaction on the proposed Rural Plan by the County Council has postponed enactment of the bill for at least 60 days.

William G. Carroll, director of the county's Department of Planning and Zoning, said a new version of the bill would be submitted for the council's consideration in November.

"I'm disappointed and sorry the council doesn't have a commitment to this," said Mr. Carroll. "We've worked for two years on this plan. We've made two presentations to the council prior to the introduction of the bill. We've had four work sessions and four public hearings.

"If someone in the council can't stand up and say what needs to be changed, it's beyond me.

"We cannot afford to sit back, while Harford County's remaining rural character and agriculture economy continue to erode, without a plan of action," he said.

The bill that failed for lack of action offered farmers options to allow them to keep and farm their land instead of selling to developers.

One of the options would have permitted farmers to sell so-called development rights, or the rights to build a set number of homes on their land, too. A farmer would have received tax-free interest payments over 20 years and a lump sum payment at the end of that period. The county would hold the development rights, ensuring the property would not be developed.

Dropped from the plan was a scenic roads section which farmers objected to, saying it would limit what could be built on road-front property to prevent improvements to some rural roads.

Donald Hoopes, president of the Harford County Farm Bureausaid a great deal of time and effort has been spent writing an acceptable plan.

He said that his group will meet with as many farmers as possible in the next several weeks. "Our organization is responsible for 95 percent of the amendments made to the original plan," he said.

"The county worked with us and made the changes we requested. Our problem was we didn't have enough time to get the information to our membership."

Mr. Hoopes said the Farm Bureau will work to ensure that farmers are better informed of the provisions in the proposal when it's reintroduced.

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