Development rights on agenda

December 5, 2008
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The Kent County Agricultural Preservation Board has recommended that the county buy options to purchase the commercial development rights of three farms next year under the ordinance the county established six years ago.

If the rights are purchased, that means those properties will remain agricultural and can’t be developed for commercial purposes.

County commissioners will review and vote on the recommendation Thursday.

The farms are located in Vergennes Township in eastern central Kent County and the three properties total 303 acres. Buying the development rights of all three would cost $630,000, or $2,080 an acre.

Half of the purchase price, $315,000, is expected to come from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmland Preservation grant the county preservation board will apply for early next year. The Wege Foundation is expected to contribute $274,000 to the purchase, and the county has $50,000 worth of matching funds in its preservation fund.

Those three sources would give the local board a total of $639,000 for the transactions.

The preservation board’s new endowment fund is expected to cover the appraisals and the options on the properties. No county tax dollars are being used to buy the rights from the property owners.

The preservation board received 34 applications to the Purchase of Development Rights program this year, and 32 qualified for it under the federal guidelines.

Under the PDR ordinance, the county’s preservation board has bought the rights of 758 acres since the program was created in November 2002.

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