County Leaders Win Supervisor’s Praise in Saving Farms

NORRISTOWN PA – A Lower Frederick supervisor offered public praise Thursday (Jan. 21, 2021) to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners for its efforts to preserve local farms and, about an hour later, the three commissioners reinforced that support by unanimously authorizing the county’s land-saving program to continue another year.

During their second meeting of the month, township Supervisor Terry Bird of Zieglerville told the county’s elected leaders that they, their agencies, and employees were “doing a great job” in ensuring the county Agricultural Land Preservation Program secured farm lands for future generations and guarded against development.

Commissioners’ Chair Dr. Valerie Arkoosh said she appreciated Bird’s compliments, and when asked to vote on a resolution that committed more than $90,000 in program funding for 2021 she and her colleagues readily passed the measure.

For 30 years, the program has worked to buy agricultural easements from owners of productive farms within the county. The easements allow land to be kept or sold to new owners, but in either case legally restricts use of the covered properties solely to farming. Only property owners who apply and voluntarily agree to the restrictions participate in the program, according to county Planning Commission information.

The program has been successful during its three decades, Planning Commission Executive Director Scott France told board members. He noted it had reached a milestone during 2020 of protecting 10,196 acres at 177 farm sites.

Commissioners budgeted $4,000 of the $90,575 in committed funds to be paid to the county Conservation District for its assistance in administering the program. The remaining money for easement purchases will be supplemented with cigarette and cigar tax funding from the state, and support from the Pennsylvania Environmental Stewardship Fund and other sources.

Bird also is a member of the Lower Frederick Agricultural Security Area Advisory Committee, created in 2018. One of several benefits to owners of about 720 acres enrolled in the township agricultural security area is that, should they choose, it helps them qualify for the farmland preservation program.

Cornfield photo by The Post
Preservation sign photo from the Montgomery County Conservation District