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More farmland preserved in Pa.

September 01, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania State Farmland Preservation Board on Monday accepted three more Franklin County Farms into the program, bringing the total of preserved acres in the county to more than 3,000.

Since the program began in 1989, Franklin County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said the state and county have purchased development easements on 21 farms in the county. Elliott, a member of the Preservation Board, said Tuesday that 1,431 of the 3,019 acres have been preserved in the past two years.

Added to the list during Monday's meeting of the board was the 194-acre farm of C. Eugene and Betty Wingert in St. Thomas Township. A 100-acre farm belonging to Robert and Rhodena Eckstine of Montgomery Township was also added, along with a 66-acre farm belonging to Richard and Annabel Fries and Thomas Fries, which straddles Montgomery and Peters townships.

Elliott said the Fries farm adjoins another already in the program, the Patchwork Farm that was the boyhood home of James Buchanan, the only United States president born in Pennsylvania.

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The cost of purchasing the development rights for perpetuity is based on the difference between the appraised value of the land for development and its appraised value as farmland, according to Elliott. The easements on the Wingert farm went for $305,514, or $1,543 an acre.

The figure was $108,406, or $1,029 an acre for the Eckstine farm and $55,251 for the Fries farm, or v$790 an acre.

Elliott said the county has about $750,000 for farmland preservation in the 1999 budget, including $150,000 in county funds. He said about 60 farms are now on the preservation waiting list and two more could be approved at the October meeting of the Preservation Board.

Because of a one-time appropriation of $42 million for farmland preservation in the state's 1999-2000 budget, Elliott said the county will be receiving about $1 million more to buy development rights for other farms.

"It's a quality-of-life issue. It's broader than just preserving agriculture," Elliott said.

The county and state have paid more than $4.1 million to purchase development rights on county farms since 1989, Elliott said. Statewide 1,140 farms comprising 140,015 acres have been preserved, he said.

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