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Aberdeen mayor opposes county ag preservation incentives near his city [Commentary]

The Aegis

Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady recently posted the following information on his Facebook page and called it to the attention of The Aegis. The post was not discussed by the County Council during the public healing on Bill 18-013 held Tuesday evening, June 12. Editor

Here is a note I sent to the Harford County Council to be entered into the record for the public hearing tonight on the Harford County Council legislation 18-013:

I write today to express my concern about the AG preservation money that is to be spent to permanently restrict the development of land near the city limits of Aberdeen. Specifically, I saw on Facebook that Councilman Chad Shrodes was encouraging people to support the spending of tax money on the Ag Preservation program, and he shared the following link [to the Friends of Harford website]

I'm glad that he shared this link, because I was unaware of this previously. This map, linked above, shows the ”agricultural incentives” approved by the Harford County Council recently.

This “incentive” area, as I understand it, means that the county is willing to spend more money than usual to acquire the development rights from these areas, highlighted in the green-swatched areas. Please consider revising this incentive program and the criteria for scoring the Ag Preservation properties to reflect the cost and value of the County and City-owned infrastructure planned and already in place.

It is my position that the county should not engage in any permanent agricultural preservation within 1 mile from the corporate limits of the City of Aberdeen. These areas are best left to the owners of the properties, so that our municipality, Aberdeen, can control our destiny.

Specifically, this request is that you vote against spending money on purchasing the development rights of any properties within 1 mile of I-95, and specifically, the property identified as the Turnbaugh property on 22, falling at 1 mile from the 95 and 22 on ramp.

The City of Aberdeen has plans in place to build a new water tower near the I-95 interchange, what we refer to as the West Side water tank. This will allow new development near the I-95 interchange, where it belongs, and we want to make sure that the County Council recognizes this.

The Turnbaugh property is part of the attached bill, 18-013.

I have long said what is good for Aberdeen, or for Bel Air, or for Havre de Grace is also good for Harford County.

Harford County benefits from growth in our towns and cities, and the only way that we're going to be able to pay for all the ‘stuff’ that the County wants to pay for, is through this growth. The only alternative to this is increasing taxes or cutting other services.

By permanently preserving lands that are closer than 1 mile from the I-95 interchange, we are shooting ourselves in the foot in the long run.

People want to live in Harford County because of the beautiful agriculture, because of the great quality of life and because of our great municipalities.

If we handicap our local governments ability to grow under control, the only outcome will be an increased cost of living in the form of higher taxes for the Harford County residents who are current taxpayers.

There are too many miles of road, too many schools, too many programs to support with our current taxpayers otherwise.

Please allow our local governments to grow, and do not permanently ag preserve lands that are established for growth areas for our local governments.

If I or any members of the Aberdeen City Council can offer any assistance to you, please don't hesitate to ask.

Mayor Patrick McGrady


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