04/14/04 — County planning board begins work on agricultural districts

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County planning board begins work on agricultural districts

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on April 14, 2004 1:57 PM

The Wayne County Planning Board began work Tuesday night on the revised "voluntary agriculture districts" program. A decision is expected in May.

Board members expressed hope that the public would learn more about the proposal and comment on it.

The county is considering a program that would allow farmers and other agricultural land users to place their land in agricultural districts. The districts would be marked with roadside signs and included on maps in the county's deeds, planning and tax offices.

Any developers who build subdivisions within a quarter-mile of the districts would be required to note the presence of the districts on all plans. The goal of the districts would be to lessen conflict between traditional farming practices and new neighborhoods.

County officials visited Sampson County last year and were impressed with its district program, extension agent Bob Pleasants said.

If the program is adopted as proposed, the Wayne County commissioners would appoint a seven-member agricultural advisory board. At least five members would be farmers.

The new board would review and approve applications for voluntary agricultural districts. The initial districts would be at least 100 acres. Smaller farms in close proximity to these first districts could then be added.

To qualify, farmland must be identified as agricultural by the tax department, must be actively farmed over the past five years, and must abide by erosion-control practices where applicable.

The county commissioners would set the application fee. The proposal doesn't suggest what the fee should be. Sampson County charges $25 to register a district for 10 years.

Anyone wanting to comment on the districts can call the Planning Department at 731-1650 or the individual Planning Board members. The county commissioners plan to hold a hearing, but it has not yet been scheduled.