Let’s con­tinue land preser­va­tion ef­forts in Calvert County

The Calvert Recorder - - Community Forum - Greg Bowen, Prince Fred­er­ick The writer is a mem­ber of Sus­tain­able Calvert Net­work, rep­re­sent­ing the Amer­i­can Chest­nut Land Trust, Calvert County Farm Bu­reau, Calvert County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, Calvert Eats Lo­cal, Calvert Farm­land Trust, Calvert Na­ture S

The Pur­chase and Re­tire­ment Fund is a key com­po­nent of Calvert County’s over­all land preser­va­tion and growth con­trol strat­egy and should be fully funded. It al­lows prime farm and forest­land own­ers to per­ma­nently pro­tect their own lands while pro­tect­ing Calvert’s ru­ral char­ac­ter. We all win.

Fur­ther­more, the funds used for the Pur­chase and Re­tire­ment Fund do not come from county prop­erty taxes or from county in­come taxes. In­stead, they come from state trans­fer tax in­come, from the tobacco set­tle­ment agree­ment be­tween the tobacco com­pa­nies and the states, and from a county recor­da­tion tax in­crease in 1999 that was specif­i­cally in­tended for this very purpose.

A farmer’s eq­uity is tied up in the farm, much like an­other busi­ness per­son’s money is tied up in store and in­ven­tory. With the Pur­chase and Re­tire­ment Fund, a farmer keeps the land but sells the right to de­velop it. Pro­ceeds from the sale may be used for re­tire­ment, mak­ing im­prove­ments to an ex­ist­ing farm­ing op­er­a­tion or start­ing a new farm- or for­est-re­lated en­ter­prise.

And that trans­ac­tion ben­e­fits all of us. It leaves our ru­ral land­scapes in­tact. It al­lows for ru­ral economies, which cre­ate food, fiber and jobs. It leaves forests, mead­ows and marshes for wildlife. It pro­vides stream buf­fers and low­ers im­per­vi­ous sur­faces, thus help­ing to pro­tect wa­ter­ways like the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, Patux­ent River and lo­cal creeks, which 87 per­cent of county res­i­dents say they sup­port, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent opin­ion poll re­leased by Smart Growth Mary­land. The same poll re­ported that 79 per­cent of Calvert County vot­ers sup­port pro­tect­ing most agri­cul­tural land from de­vel­op­ment and 65 per­cent say that we should dis­cour­age res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment.

Dur­ing the Sus­tain­able Calvert Net­work cam­paign fo­rum, four in­com­ing com­mis­sion­ers sup­ported the goal of pre­serv­ing 40,000 acres of prime farm and for­est lands (one did not at­tend the fo­rum). We look for­ward to work­ing with and sup­port­ing land preser­va­tion ef­forts with the new board.

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