05/12/04 — Agriculture district proposals go back to commissioners

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Agriculture district proposals go back to commissioners

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on May 12, 2004 2:06 PM

The Wayne County commissioners will soon get a second look at a program designed to reduce conflict between town and country.

The county Planning Board agreed Tuesday on revised guidelines for "voluntary agriculture districts." The proposal goes to the county board for consideration.

Before they can act, the commissioners will need to hold a public hearing. It could be set as early as June.

The Planning Board approved some slight changes to the proposal presented to the commissioners last fall. But the basics remain the same.

Farmers and other agricultural land users could petition the county to place their land in agricultural districts. They would pay a small fee to have their land marked with road signs and included on maps in the county's deeds, planning and tax offices.

Any developer building a neighborhood within a quarter mile of the districts would be required to note their presence on plans.

The program's goal is to ensure that people cannot buy property or homes in Wayne County and then be surprised to find out about the nearby turkey houses, hog nursery or timberland.

Agriculture Extension Agent Bob Pleasants told the Planning Board on Tuesday that he has provided information about the districts to the Farm Bureau. So far, farmers have been supportive, he said.

Board members said they haven't heard any objections or concerns.

If the program is adopted as proposed, the 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, either contiguous or in three or fewer tracts within a half-mile of each other. Smaller farms in close proximity to these first districts could then be added.

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