Townships’ voters to decide on farmland preservation millage proposal

By: 
Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Photo by Linda Gallagher

Voters in both Elk Rapids and Milton townships will be asked to decide on a farmlands preservation millage proposal during the Michigan primary election slated for Tuesday, Aug. 6. If approved, it would allow for implementation of a program allowing property owners to sell their lands' development rights to the township and permanently preserve open spaces and farmlands such as the cherry orchard shown above. 

 

REGION – Voters in both Elk Rapids and Milton townships will be asked to decide on a farmlands preservation millage proposal during the Michigan primary election slated for Tuesday, Aug. 6.

If approved, in both townships the proposal would allow for a property tax increase of up to one mill ($1 per $1,000 of taxable value) for a period of 10 years (beginning this year) to be used to purchase agricultural conservation easements from interested landowners to permanently preserve farmland and open spaces, in accordance with ordinances already approved by both townships.

Similar programs in Grand Traverse County as well as more than a dozen counties in southern Michigan and elsewhere throughout the country, allowing property owners to sell development rights mandating that the land be permanently preserved as open space or farmland, have proven very successful, according to Laura Rigan, Farmland Protection Specialist for the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.

"Antrim County has an ordinance allowing for farmland and open spaces protection, and recently appointed a board of directors to supervise the program, but a funding mechanism must be approved before the program can be implemented," Rigan explained.

"It is important for voters to understand that property owners who participate in the program would retain ownership of their lands – they would not be selling them to the township or any other body of government," Rigan said. "And this program would be purely voluntary; property owners do not have to participate."

Interested property owners would apply to the township to be considered for the program, the farmlands specialist went on to say.

"At that point, the county's farmland preservation board would assess the property, looking at factors such as soil capabilities, the land's proximity to other protected lands and development demand in that area," she said.

Read the full story in our regular edition of The Review. To subscribe to the paper for just $34 a year, which includes access to our full online e-edition, please go to the subscription page on this website at: http://www.antrimreview.net/subscribe/

 

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