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SG-W:/ Clinton County also passes PDR ordinance
- Subject: SG-W:/ Clinton County also passes PDR ordinance
- From: Mike Garfield <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 2 Dec 2002 09:39:57 -0500
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- Delivered-To: email@example.com
Title: Clinton County also passes PDR
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jennifer Vincent
Nov. 27, 2002
Clinton and Kent county commissioners say
yes to new farmland protection programs,
Several counties around the state to follow
EAST LANSING, Nov. 27, 2002 - Clinton and Kent counties today joined
a growing number of Michigan counties by passing county ordinances to
create farmland protection programs that allow for growth, while
designating areas for future preservation through a voluntary purchase
of development rights (PDR) programs.
Clinton County Commissioners passed the Farmland Development Rights
Ordinance, 7-0, culminating more than 18 months of work by the work
group. In Kent County, despite aggressive opposition from homebuilders
and realtors, commissioners approved the ordinance 14-5. In both
counties, agriculture, which is under accelerating development
pressure, contributes more than $100 million to the local
Earlier this fall, Lapeer and Leelanau counties adopted farmland
protection ordinances and Barry, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Shiawassee, Grand
Traverse and Antrim counties are all in the process of finalizing
program details for the adoption of a county ordinance in the upcoming
months. Other communities are also beginning to discuss how the
program can be tailored to their county.
"This was truly a grassroots effort," explained Dr. David
Skjaerlund of Rural Partners of Michigan, which assisted the work
groups in identifying land use options and designing programs
specifically to meet the needs of the people who live there.
"We're seeing a huge ground swell of interest in developing these
farmland preservation programs across the state."
In a complimentary effort, Clinton County Commissioners also approved
their review and update of their comprehensive master plan, including
more specific strategies to protect farmland and plan more efficiently
to accommodate future growth. Between 1982-1997, Clinton County
lost over 22,000 acres of farmland while over 4,000 new residential
parcels were created from 1991-1999.
"We recognized that we have been talking about better land
management for 30 years, but have not done anything about it,"
said Clinton County Commissioner Russel Bauerle. "We
recognized that if we didn't start taking steps to protect farmland
and agriculture, it would be too late. This program is a good
beginning for us."
Under Public Act 262 of 2000, the Michigan Agricultural Preservation
Fund was established to allow local units of government to design
programs for a 75 percent funding match from the state. The state then
leverages national dollars, with nearly $1 billion in federal funding
available nationwide over the next 10 years, as an additional source
for funding local programs. The proposed state criteria for
communities to qualify for matching funds is currently being reviewed
and is open for public comment during two public meetings, Dec. 2 in
Roscommon and Dec. 9 in East Lansing.
"The state has given communities
another land use tool in their toolbox, and they are taking that
opportunity to create programs that compliment their master plans and
local land use planning strategies," commented Sharon Steffens, a
member of the State Agricultural Preservation Fund Board.
"Our next step will be to identify additional long-term funding
sources dedicated to meet the growing need and interest in protecting
Michigan's valuable farmland."
In Kent County, where a work group of about 20 people met every two
weeks for about seven months, homebuilder and realtor groups charged
that a farmland preservation program would limit the supply of
available land for future development, and thus, create an affordable
"The argument was diffused when people realized that
affordable housing is the result of development design," stated
Skjaerlund. "Lancaster County in Pennsylvania has protected
55,000 acres of farmland through a similar program that has been in
place for the last 20 years, which is supported by local
homebuilders. Even with aggressive farmland protection efforts,
Lancaster County is the eighth most affordable place to live in the
Northeast and the most affordable place to live in the state of
>From 1982-1997, Kent County has lost over 36,000 acres of farmland.
Kent County's Urban Sprawl Task Force Report, completed by the
county commissioners, established a goal of protecting half of its
remaining agricultural lands, 92,000 acres or 143 square-miles, which
represents only 18 percent of the county's land mass, directing
present and future development needs to the remaining 82 percent.
The county will target protecting the first 25,000 acres through the
newly adopted farmland development rights ordinance.
"This program is really designed not to conflict with planned
growth, but to help minimize the permanent impacts of urban sprawl on
agriculture," stated Kent County Commissioner Jack Horton.
"Farmland preservation programs are not
"This is the first step to having a viable agricultural industry
in Kent County for years to come," said Denny Heffron of Belding
who actively farms in Kent County. "For me, up until now, I
questioned whether or not there would be a future for our farm as it
operates today. Because most of the land we farm is rented and
will be changing hands in the near future, it was a real threat that
it would be divided into lots and sold for development. This
program provides the options many landowners are
"I see this farmland preservation program benefiting the city,"
said Kent Commissioner Harold Mast prior to voting on the ordinance.
"This is probably one of the most visionary things we can do.
This is a way to protect open space and the environment for our
In a recent statewide telephone survey administered by the American
Farmland Trust, funded by People And Land and conducted by EPIC-MRA of
Lansing, three out of four Michiganders surveyed said it was a good
idea for their community and the state to implement policies to better
manage growth and development by offering state and local dollars to
encourage growth in areas where it should be, and government funds to
preserve farmland in rural areas.
Both Kent and Clinton counties will move forward by appointing county
agricultural preserve boards, which will finalize the administrative
details for the application cycle and help identify local funding
options. Local funding options may include an allocation from the
general fund, bonds, private conservancy funds, land owner donations
or even new millages similar to the one passed this month by voters in
Peninsula Township near Traverse City.
For more information, contact David
Skjaerlund, 517-204-7686 or Stacy Sheridan at
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-3186 ext. 104
(734) 663-2414 (fax)