Kent County Looking At PDR Grant

August 13, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County will take another step in purchasing the development rights of another farm next week if commissioners agree to apply for a $50,000 grant from the Institute of Systematic Change.

The grant would go toward the local match needed to buy the rights to 61 farmland acres in Lowell. MSU Extension Agent Kendra Wills, who consults the county on development rights matters, said last month the county needed $167,000 to close on the transaction.

The grant from ISC, which is part of the Keller Foundation, would go toward that match.

“All the matching funds are from private and foundation dollars,” said Mary Swanson, assistant county administrator.

Wills said area foundations have already contributed $134,000 to the local share of the purchase price, which is $284,000 or $4,655 per acre.

Joseph and Susan Merriman own the farm. The Merrimans qualified for a federal grant of $76,800, and it will be applied to the purchase price.

Commissioners approved making an offer on the Merriman property last month. County tax dollars can’t be used to buy development rights.

The Commission created the Purchase of Development Rights ordinance in November 2002 to preserve green space in the county.

Commissioners will also be asked next week to accept a $15,000 grant from the Dyer-Ives Foundation. The grant, which was awarded to the county’s Agricultural Preservation Board, will be used to make property appraisals for development rights purchases.

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