Howard County adds nearly 130 acres to farmland preservation program
ALPP easements are voluntary. A farmer whose land meets certain size and soil criteria may offer to sell a perpetual easement to the county, while owning the land and continuing to farm. The farm can be sold, but the easement, which restricts the development of the property, remains with the land and binds all future owners.
“Thank you to everyone involved who kept this program going and for working so hard to get this land”, said board member David Yungmann, Ward 5. “If you look at a map, it was a donut hole in the middle of all the preserved properties, so it’s a real price to put that into our farm preservation program.”
The newly added Dickey property preserves land that is primarily in a corn and soybean rotation and is 97% Class I, II and III soils. There is a high concentration of unspoiled land nearby, including the 290-acre Dickey family’s ALPP easement farm to the west, which has been part of the program since 1984.
In June 2019, county executive Calvin Ball reopened the ALPP after the previous administration closed the program in the summer of 2019, for a year due to a budget deficit. By working with the Planning and Zoning Department, the Finance Department and the Agricultural Preservation Council, Ball was able to responsibly restore this important program and update the scoring system used to determine the price of the easement. Ball began accepting applications for the ALPP after County Council approved the revised scoring system in July 2020. The first property in the current acquisition cycle, comprising 35 acres, was settled in June 2021. Including Dickey Farm, there are five additional properties in the acquisition pipeline, totaling nearly 300 acres.
“On behalf of the ALPP, I would like to thank the Dickey and Sharp families for continuing their tradition of preserving the land through this program by placing this beautiful working farm under bondage”, said Joy Levy, administrator of the Howard County Farmland Preservation Program. “The Dickey family was a pioneer in the preservation of agriculture. She brought her family farm into the program in 1984, the first year the county began purchasing agricultural easements. The Sharps have 11 other easement farms, more than any other family, so both families have been a big contributor to the county’s ongoing farmland efforts.
“If you look at the neighboring counties around us, they haven’t even reached the percentage of acres we’ve preserved here in Howard County. We are delighted that this property is entering the Howard County Agricultural Preservation Program ”, said Mickey Day, Chairman of the Agricultural Preservation Board. “This is one of the few remaining large tracts and, by its inclusion in the program, complements an adjacent area of land that will be preserved for future generations. “
Since 1978, Howard County has protected farmland using three methods.
- The purchase of agricultural conservation easements by the county
- Allocation of agricultural preservation plots as provided for in the county zoning by-law
- The purchase of agricultural conservation easements by the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation
“As long-time residents of Howard County, we are pleased to see this property enter into the preservation of agriculture,” said Jonathan Dickey, owner of Dickey Farm. “We are also delighted that a multigenerational family like the Sharps continues the farming tradition here for years to come.
“Thank you to the Howard County leaders for the foresight in preserving this farm and other productive lands in Farm West Howard County” said Alan Sharp, owner of Sharp Farms. “When I show our Farmland Forever sign and explain that the farm is part of the Howard County Land Preservation, it always brings a smile and a burst of enthusiasm from our visitors. I hope everyone here shares this enthusiasm, as this farm enters the program and becomes farmland forever.