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Consultant hired for agriculture preservation program

August 30, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A Missouri consultant will design a program that would preserve agricultural land in Washington County and allow property owners to recover lost land value resulting from the limited development potential of their property.

Three of the five County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to hire White & Smith LLC Planning and Law Group of Lee's Summit, Mo., for $42,955. The consultant will design a transferable development rights (TDR) program for the county.

Two commissioners, Vice President William J. Wivell and John C. Munson, said they wanted the next board of commissioners to decide the issue. They said the money could be wasted if the next board were opposed to a TDR program.

The TDR program would permanently preserve agricultural land by allowing the owner of that land to sell the land's development rights to the owner of another property where development may occur.

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It would preserve farmland using private sector money rather than tax dollars, according to information provided by the county.

Wivell said the commissioners shouldn't "play politics" with the issue by rushing a TDR program through close to the election.

He said the commissioners already missed an Aug. 1 deadline they set last year to develop a TDR or other equity program. The deadline was a condition of the county's vote to approve the rural rezoning plan. Some landowners who opposed the rezoning plan were upset that the commissioners didn't follow through with the deadline.

"My position is: Let it go and let the next board decide," he said. "It could be a waste of taxpayers' money if the next board decides to do something different."

Wivell made a motion to not hire the consultant, which received a second by Munson.

The motion failed after Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and Commissioners James F. Kercheval and Doris J. Nipps opposed the motion.

Snook, Kercheval and Nipps then voted in favor of the consultant, while Wivell and Munson voted against the hiring.

Nipps said the commissioners have been discussing a TDR program for years, have told the public a plan would be created and that it was time to move forward. What to do with the program would be up to the next board, she said.

Munson disagreed.

"The board that approves it needs to be here to enact it, and that's not going to happen," Munson said.

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