Great Lakes Environmental Directory Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes grants exotic species water pollution water export drilling environment Great Lakes pollution Superior Michigan Huron Erie Ontario ecology Great Lakes issues wetlands Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes watershed water quality exotic species Great Lakes grants water pollution water export oil gas drilling environment environmental Great Lakes pollution Lake Superior Lake Michigan Lake Huron Lake Erie Lake Ontario Great Lakes ecology Great Lakes issues Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Resources Great Lakes activist Great Lakes environmental organizations Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat air pollution alien species threatened rare endangered species ecological Great Lakes information Success Stories Great Lakes Directory Home/News Great Lakes Calendar Great Lakes jobs/volunteering Search Great Lakes Organizations Take Action! Contact Us Resources/Links Great Lakes Issues Great Lakes News Article About Us Networking Services

Great Lakes Article:

Lenawee eyes plan to preserve farmland
Owners could sell
development rights
By Erica Blake
Toledo Blade

Lenawee County officials have watched homes being built, one by one, on land where crops were grown and animals raised.

Now, they are among officials in about 18 counties across Michigan working on creating a way to ensure that quality farmland stays farmland forever.

County commissioners continue to digest a proposed ordinance that has been dividing communities across the country. If approved, the Lenawee County Farmland and Open Space Development Rights Ordinance would allow farmers to sell the development rights of their land. If this is done, the land can be used only for agricultural purposes, permanently.

Scott Everett, the director of the Central Great Lakes Region for the American Farmland Trust, said that ordinances like the one Lenawee County is considering are being enacted around the country. He acknowledged that although not popular among developers, the preservation ordinances are important in protecting the agricultural industry.

"Protecting farmland ainít easy. Itís very hard to do," Mr. Everett said, adding that the best programs in the country took time to get rolling after the program was adopted. "These are generational farms and deep down a farmer really doesnít want to crack that farm up, but the developmental value is so tempting."

Lenawee County is home to 336,468 acres of farmland, according to the 1997 agricultural census. That makes it the third-largest county in the state in terms of land dedicated to farming, Mr. Everett said.

But at the same time, it is sixth on the list of those counties that are losing farming acreage each year. Between 1982 and 1997, Lenawee County lost nearly 40,000 acres of farmland, Mr. Everett said.

Annually farms in Lenawee County generate about $102.8 million in total agricultural sales.

County Commissioner Larry Gould has farmed land in Lenawee County for decades. He stressed that the ordinance would be available to farmers who are interested in preserving their farmland and would not be forced on anyone.

But he acknowledged that there are still plenty of questions to be worked out. Attorneys are researching issues such as who would be eligible for purchasing the farmsí development rights. For example, would it be done by the townships and the county, or could other farmers or perhaps out-of-state organizations buy the rights. Mr. Gould said the county would have to come up with a way of funding the purchasing of property rights.

But the chairman of the county commission said he fully supports the concept. "Itís what we call smart growth," he said. "Weíll take the most productive land and keep it agricultural while the less productive land can be used for homes."

Mr. Everett said federal grants are available to counties that have farmland preservation ordinances in place. Currently, only eight of Michiganís 83 counties have ordinances on the books, he said.

Commissioner Rob Hall, who owns a business in Hudson, said he is interested in talking more about the proposed ordinance, which has yet to be discussed fully by the board or brought before a public hearing. He said in addition to having concerns about where the money comes from or how it will be administered, he has heard gripes about the fact that those farms that are preserved under this ordinance would be labeled farmland forever.

"I donít think anybodyís against preserving farmland. I think people are against this ordinance in the way it goes about doing that," he said. "The way it is written now, it doesnít give us anywhere to go with expansion. There is concern that this is forever with no ifs, ands, or buts about it."

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.
For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for
purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Great Lakes environmental information

Return to Great Lakes Directory Home/ Site Map