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Greene Township farmland added to preservation program

February 23, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The amount of farmland preserved in Franklin County is nearing 13,000 acres as two tracts of a Greene Township farm were added to the program earlier this month.

The Pennsylvania State Farmland Preservation Board on Feb. 14 approved the inclusion of two tracts of land owned by Harold and Helen Forrester of White Church Road. Ninety-six parcels of farmland totaling 12,987 acres now have been preserved in the county, said former Franklin County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott, a member of the state board.

The tracts are the fourth and fifth belonging to the Forresters to be included in the program, county Senior Planner Sherri Clayton said. The two parcels total 186 acres and, with the three other pieces of farmland, total about 378 acres, she said.

In exchange for having land preserved, farmers are paid for the development rights to the property, Clayton said. The figure is based on the difference between the land's value for agriculture and its value if developed.

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In most cases, the farmers reinvest the money in their operations, Clayton said.

The cost of purchasing the development rights for the two parcels was $466,888, according to the farmland preservation board. The money comes from state and county funds and, in this case, also included a $50,000 contribution from Greene Township, Elliott said.

"Not only are we continuing to preserve more farms, but we are doing so with the increased power of numbers from the addition of funds from townships," said Elliott, a member of the board since 1996. Antrim and Washington townships also have contributed money to preserve farmlands within their boundaries, he said.

"Hopefully, more townships will join these three leaders," Elliott said.

Clayton said the figure of 12,987 acres includes a 95-acre farm in Antrim Township, the development rights for which are being purchased only with county funds. Settlement on the property is expected in the near future, she said.

In 2008, the county budgeted $1.8 million for farmland preservation, Clayton said. The state has approved an additional $1.3 million to preserve county farms, she said.

Another 15 county farms are in various stages of the approval process, Clayton said.

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