Parcels from three Carroll County farms cleared the first hurdle toward inclusion in the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program yesterday.
Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended 230.78 acres from three farms for the state program, pending a public hearing before the county commissioners and state Board of Public Works for approval. If approved, the acreage would be designated preservation districts.
The designation would qualify the acres 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, the owners become eligible to sell an easement, but are not obligated to do so.
The 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 on it by then.
List of farms
The farms recommended yesterday are:
At 4049 N. Stone Road in Taneytown, 36 acres owned by Charles M. Hahn Jr. and Elizabeth K. Hahn.
At 6388 Keysville Road in Keymar, 78.23 acres owned by William F. and Shirley R. Hamilton.
At 3913 Millers Station Road in Manchester, 116.55 acres owned by John E. Weber Jr. and Elizabeth B. Weber.
Planning commission member Maurice E. Wheatley asked whether part of the Weber farm was in the path of a bypass the county hopes to persuade the state to build around Manchester.
Three acres of the Weber farm are in the path of the proposed bypass, but entering the land in the preservation program would not prevent the 3-acre portion from being removed if the bypass is built, said Brenda Black of the county's agricultural land preservation office. Black said the state's preservation laws allow land to be removed from the program if needed for public use.
Carroll County is one of the leaders nationwide in agricultural preservation. Through the state preservation program, which began in the 1970s, the county has preserved 29,971 acres of farmland through permanent easements, with another 47,583 acres designated as preservation districts.
A tour of four bus loads of farm-preservation advocates from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio visited Carroll County and other Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey farms last month to learn about the mid-Atlantic states' preservation programs.