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Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

Agriculture

Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan only be done with the addition of equal size and quality land to the production zone. The county also has a rural residential zone that allows one dwelling unit per ten acres. (See Appendix VI for excerpts from the King County Comprehensive Plan.) Urban Growth Boundaries in Kentucky’s Bluegrass Country Lexington-Fayette County Kentucky long ago understood the importance of the agricultural industry to their local economy and of the resulting landscape to the essential character of the community. In 1958 they took steps to mitigate the post WWII growth explosion by enacting an Urban Service Area boundary to absorb the residential and commercial development and in the early 1960’s placed a zoning district on its agricultural area restricting residential development to one dwelling unit per ten acres (1:10). Lexington was, at times in the ensuing decades, one of the fastest growing communities in the country. Nevertheless it was able to maintain its sharply defined urban boundaries, tree-lined rural roads, world-renowned horse farms and historic rural settlements. In the early 1990’s, however, the ten acre requirement for a residential unit in the agricultural zone was no longer a deterrent to widespread subdivision activity and the large lot requirement was using up farmland at an alarming rate. In 1998, the joint city/county government, with broad support, including from the agricultural community, placed a temporary moratorium on development outside the urban service area and completed a comprehensive plan update. As a result the agricultural districts were rezoned to a residential density of one dwelling unit per forty acres (1:40) on condition that a local purchase of development rights (PDR) program be enacted and funded. The PDR program was designed to buy development rights (easements) at the old zoning density of 1:10 creating an opportunity for landowners to be compensated for the downzoning. In 2000, the city/county sold bonds and raised $40 million to launch its PDR program. PDR Funding Innovation in Howard County, Maryland Faced with rapid suburbanization in the late 1980’s, Howard County (located between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.) pioneered a way to fund easement purchases, up-front, while the land was still available, and in a way that used tax benefits to make the county’s easement purchase offers competitive with developers’ offers. The concept was inspired by the oft-repeated complaint of farmers that ‘it’s not what you get (for PDR), it’s what you get to keep”. Instead of paying with cash, the county offered an installment purchase agreement (IPA), which is a promise to pay in thirty years. By holding the IPA the landowner deferred capital gains and collected an annual stream of tax-free interest on the full value of the easement purchase transaction. The easement is permanent and runs with the land but the IPA is separable from the land and can be securitized and sold on the bond market if needed for cash. The county purchased 30-year federal zero-coupon bonds to fund the balloon payments on the agreements at the end of their terms. A zero-coupon bond requires a small downpayment relative to the face value of the bond and produces no annual interest; instead, the bond pays a lump sum when it matures. In the meantime, the county uses a portion of the local real estate transfer tax that is dedicated by law to farmland preservation to pay the interest to the holders of the IPAs. When introduced, this funding/payment mechanism invigorated the local PDR program allowing them to double in easement acreage what it had taken ten years previously to accomplish. They were able to spend about $9 million dollars to permanently protect $57 million worth of easements. Columbia, MD 23

Genesee County, New York While begun in Howard County, use of installment purchase agreements with zero-coupon bond financing has been replicated in Harford County, Maryland, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Burlington County, New Jersey, Peninsula Township, Michigan and is currently being introduced into Pennsylvania’s state PDR Program. An interesting side note is that Howard County and others using IPAs received bond rating upgrade and farmland preservation and growth management were specifically cited among the reasons given by the bond-rating houses. To outside investors, buying and extinguishing development rights is a technique for avoiding future, much greater, infrastructure costs. (See Appendix VII for a complete explanation.) Cooperative Planning for Farmland Retention in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Proving that lack of uniform county zoning authority do not need to be an impediment to fostering production agriculture and protecting farmland, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania has managed to employ just about all of the major farmland protection tools. These include differential tax assessment, comprehensive planning, agricultural districts, right-to-farm laws, agricultural zoning (1:25), urban growth boundaries, purchase and transfer of development rights and private land trusts. All of this occurs in a government structure consisting of only advisory county planning land use controls in the hands of forty-one townships, nineteen boroughs and the City of Lancaster. In spite of all the jurisdictions, the county has managed an organized and multi-faceted approach to protecting its farmland. The key seems to be the presence of a strong and prospering agricultural industry and widespread commitment to protecting its land base throughout the county. (See Appendix VIII for a full description of Lancaster County’s combination of tools.) 24 Agriculture and Community Development Services, Inc.

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    Table of Contents Introduction 2 Me

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    Methods The methods used to prepare

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    Summary (continued) As Genesee Coun

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    Genesee County Gross Farm Sales Reb

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    Dairy and Cattle Sales Fuel Growth

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    Genesee County Farm Expenses Grow M

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    Farm Income Strength Keeps Farmers

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    Real Farm Real Estate Values Slide

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    Farm Cropland Falls Modestly in Gen

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    Dairy Farm Numbers Plummet. Number

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    Dairy Farm Size Expands in Genesee

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    Traditional Crops - Harvested Acrea

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    Specialty Crops - A Few Crops Domin

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    Specialty Crops - Greenhouse Produc

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    Number of Firms 30 25 20 15 10 Grow

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    Genesee County Farming Sectors’ O

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    Farming Sector Employment for Genes

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    Farm Output Multipliers for Genesee

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    Expenditures by the Vegetable Farm

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    Appendix: IMPLAN Analysis and Resul

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    Genesee County: Agricultural Develo

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    APPENDIX B: Project Contact List Ma

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    APPENDIX C: AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMEN

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    APPENDIX D: INDUSTRY PRACTICES •

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    Genesee County: Town of Byron Cost

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    Genesee County: Town of Byron Cost

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    Genesee County: Town of Byron Cost

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    Fire District 1 46,500.00 41,850.00

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    EMPLOYEES State Retirement 500.00 7

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    Town of Byron Revenues 2000 Revenue

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    APPENDIX C: SWOT ANALYSIS Stable La

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    Sweetland Road Sumner Road Orleans

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    #· W E S Source: Genessee County P

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    Harlow Road Simonds Road Bethany Ce

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