A win-win plan to conserve land
The battle to preserve Carroll County should not be "landowner rights vs. land conservation" but rather "landowner rights and land conservation."
I think of the farmer, committing himself to farming, spending the time and effort working the land, sometimes without much of a payoff. His golden egg is the value of his land and he should not be denied that.
I think of the land conservation efforts in Carroll County and what a difference it can make for the future. Ironically it is the beauty and value that farming brings to the land that makes these efforts so important.
It is clear that these two groups need to work together to get what each wants.
The farmer/landowner needs more financial options. If developing the land was not so wildly lucrative, then losing farmland to development would not be such a threat.
One answer? Tie the gap between the two. The county needs to offer more ways for farmers to make more money from selling development rights back to the country. For example, more programs offering cash for development rights, bigger tax breaks to landowners and allowing owners with smaller parcels to participate as well.
A strong combination of public and private funding needs to be made available. This combination would help with the cost of securing the easements, while giving the public an immediate return for their commitment. Many residents understand the value open land brings to this county and want to help save it for future generations (not to mention the savings that they will see on their property taxes). We cannot afford to continue with the unchecked growth and must spend now to preserve the value that open farm land provides us.
If this effort is successful, Carroll County will save money in the long run on infrastructure, not to mention higher land values for Carroll County overall. It comes down to money, most things do. It can be a win-win situation for everyone. It is simply good business.