January 26, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett today joined representatives of the County’s agriculture industry, County Council, Department of Economic Development (DED) and other invited industry and business guests to announce the Building Lot Termination (BLT) preservation easement acquisition of the 200-acre W. Drew Stabler/Sunny Ridge Farm, the Stabler family’s home farm in the Laytonsville/Damascus area. The BLT easement acquisition represents the first of three such anticipated easements to be settled under this fledgling program.
“After several years of planning and establishing the regulatory framework for this program, we are pleased to announce the settlement of our first BLT easement,” said Leggett. “This important program provides a tremendous opportunity for us to expand upon the private-public partnership that exists for the conservation of farmland within the County’s much coveted and nationally recognized 93,000-acre Agricultural Reserve.”
For the past several years, DED has actively worked with County leadership to develop a BLT program that would be implemented through both public and private funding initiatives. This new program represents a major opportunity to expand on the County’s steadfast efforts to conserve farmland within the Agricultural Reserve.
The BLT program differs from other County agricultural easement programs in that all eligible properties must have an on-site waste disposal system site plan approved by the County. Whether the BLT easement is acquired through the public or private program, both require the extinguishment of the on-site waste disposal system in addition to the actual development right itself.
“Today’s announcement represents the first publicly funded BLT easement acquired under the new program’s open purchase period,” said Jeremy Criss, DED’s Agricultural Services Division manager. “While today’s milestone is an important one, we are working aggressively with the development community to understand the benefits of acquiring additional density under the optional method of development in the Mixed-Use Transit Zone (TMX), Life Science Zone (LS) and Commercial/Residential Zones (CR) through the purchase of private BLT easements.”
The County is working with the development community to promote an understanding of the benefits of this new program and is moving forward with the publicly funded program to demonstrate how effective the program can be in reducing the development threat for the most at-risk farms.
“During our first open purchase period, we have protected more than 308 acres of valuable agricultural lands through the termination of seven building lots,” said Leggett. “In addition to congratulating the Stabler family for their commitment to farmland preservation, I am announcing that on February 1 the County will open the second BLT purchase period.”
Details regarding the process for applying to the Building Lot Termination Program are available at www.MontgomeryCountyMd.gov/agservices.
“A rich agricultural community represents an important part of Montgomery County’s heritage and tradition, and is still today a significant contributor to our diverse business community and local economy,” said Steven Silverman, DED director. “As the County and the region continue to grow, Montgomery County is in a unique position to offer productive opportunities for our agricultural industry for many years to come.”
The County’s diverse agricultural industry includes 577 farms and 350 horticultural enterprises producing more than $243 million in economic contribution from agricultural products and operations. The majority of Montgomery County farms are family-run operations, many reaching back several generations. These farms employ more than 10,000 residents, with half working full time in farming.
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Media Contact: Jeremy Criss, 301-590-2830
Kristina Ellis, 240-793-9568