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Jefferson Co. Commission votes to preserve farmland

July 16, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The amount of Jefferson County farmland preserved from development is set to reach nearly 300 acres after the Jefferson County Commission approved a plan to save a 120-acre tract.

The commissioners on Thursday approved a conservation easement for the land along Molers Crossroads near Shepherdstown, W.Va.

The owners of the property, Richard and Frances Latterell, have agreed not to develop the land in exchange for money awarded to them from an organization known as the National Resource Conservation Service, said Commissioner Jane Tabb.

Tabb said the amount awarded to the Latterells cannot be divulged until final details of the agreement are worked out.

The land has flat and rolling features and the Latterells currently lease the property for hay production, officials said.

There also is a cave on the property, which the Latterells used to open to cave explorers, said Roger Dailey, chairman of the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board.

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Farmland protection has been gaining interest in the Eastern Panhandle, where agricultural land is quickly giving way to residential development.

About four years ago, the West Virginia Legislature passed a bill that allows counties to set up farmland protection boards. The boards now exist in Jefferson, Berkeley and Morgan counties.

The Latterell property is the third piece of farmland to get protection in the county, Tabb said.

The first piece of protected farmland consisted of 94 acres along a bend in the Potomac River near the Cress Creek Golf and Country Club.

The property, owned by Eugene Olcott and his wife Margaret, has steep cliffs that rise from the edge of the river.

The Olcotts were paid $100,600 in exchange for agreeing not to develop the land.

The second piece of preserved farmland was an 89-acre tract next to the Latterell property, Tabb said.

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