PRINCESS ANNE — Some 1,500 acres representing 12 different farm sites are joining other Somerset County properties in line to have their development rights purchased by the state.
Each one was recommended by the planning commission and they were ranked by the local ag board with the County Commissioners during their meeting Tuesday last week making their formal endorsement following a public hearing.
The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) since 1977 has been purchasing easements to limit future development on prime farmland and woodland. As of June 2020, it has already purchased 54 easements in the county representing nearly 6,100 acres.
Commissioner Rex Simpkins said anyone who questions the value of this process should go across the state line and visit Sussex County where development of ag land is rampant.
"There won’t be anything left," he said, and made the motion to approve the list.
The list forwarded to the state is ranked based on soil type, farm size, location, farm operations, proximity to other easements, and development potential. Planning office director Gary Pusey said these are "very strong applications" which all meet the program requirements.
The properties as ranked by owner, location and acreage are:
• KPK Family Farms Inc., Black Road, 136.8 acres;
• J&J Ag LLC, Black Road, 141.5 acres;
• J&J Ag LLC, Old Rehobeth Road, 76.9 acres;
• Gary Breeding, Lovers Lane, 348.5 acres;
• Widdowson, Revell’s Neck Road, 72.32 acres;
• J&J Ag LLC, Eby Road, 58.01 acres;
• Hyrock Duck Club LLC, Anderson Road, 188.97 acres;
• Nelson/Tawes, Millard Long Road, 56.5 acres;
• Wilson Davis et al, River Road, 79.5 acres;
• Windsor, Charles Cannon Road, 115.84 acres;
• Natalie Overholt, Overholt Road, 148.44 acres; and
• Brian Laird, Mt. Vernon Road, 76.09 acres.
Vice President Charles Laird abstained from voting on all of the properties including his brother’s.
Final approval for all easement purchases is by the Maryland Board of Public Works (BPW) after at least two appraisals. On Aug. 11, the BPW approved an application by J&J for 68.6 acres for a purchase price of $241,500.
While in some transactions owners reserve the right to hold a lot for a family house to be built no request was made for additional lots in this case.