PDR Applications Being Accepted

September 3, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Farmers and growers in the county that are interested in selling the development rights to their properties must apply by the end of November to do just that.

Kent County opened the application period last week and will keep it open until Nov. 30.

The Kent County Agricultural Preservation Board will review the applications.

Those that are selected by the board and approved by the county commission will have their applications submitted to the USDA Farm and Ranch Lands Protections Program next spring for federal funding that will pay for half of the purchase rights.

The Steelcase and Frey foundations also are participating in the program.

A few selection criteria have been changed from last year’s program, the first year it was offered. For instance, properties alongside public roads will be given a higher priority in the selection process this year. But overall, the program still looks to preserve large blocks of productive farmland.

In all, there are 14 selection criteria worth a maximum of 108 points.

Last month, the county announced it would buy the development rights from three farms totaling 325 acres in three townships for $1.25 million, with half of that total coming from area foundations. Once the county completes those transactions, those properties can’t be developed for commercial purposes.

Total farm sales in Kent County surpassed $149 million in 2002, up nearly 16 percent from 1997.

Kent County commissioners approved the Purchase of Development Rights ordinance in November 2002 with a hope of preserving 25,000 acres of farmland by 2013. The county hasn’t committed any taxpayer dollars to the purchase of development rights.     

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