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Jefferson County properties sought for farmland protection plan

April 10, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Officials heading up a farmland protection plan in Jefferson County are seeking properties for possible preservation, members of the group said this week.

Property selected would be protected from development under a proposal recently passed by the Jefferson County Commission.

Farmland that is offered for preservation is rated based on a list of criteria including development pressure, the type of soil on the property and how close it is to other farmland that has been preserved, said members of the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board.

The higher the score in the various areas, the higher rating the land will receive for possible protection, board members said.

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Under the plan, farmers can be paid money in exchange for agreeing to save farmland under a protective easement.

The money paid under the protective easement will be based on the difference between the agricultural value of the land and the value if it was sold for purposes such as residential development, said Jane Peters, a member of the Farmland Protection Board.

The different values will be determined through an appraisal of a selected property, Peters said.

To be considered for protection this year, farmland protection officials are asking property owners for submissions by April 25.

Funding always will be a limiting factor for the program, according a press release from the board. Therefore, funds will be awarded to the highest ranked property first, the release said.

After approving the plan, the commissioners also passed a transfer tax increase that is expected to generate about $600,000 per year for farmland preservation.

Given rapidly rising land prices in Jefferson County, it will be a challenge to save farmland with that amount of money, Commission President Jane Tabb has said.

Interested property owners can go to the county's Web site to view a process flowchart, a glossary of terms, a sample deed of a conservation easement, information about eligibility requirements and an application form.

After going to the Web site at www.jeffersoncountywv.org, click on boards and commissions, and go to Farmland Protection Board.

The address for the Farmland Protection Board is P.O. Box 731, Charles Town, WV 25414, and the phone number is 304-724-1414.

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