Search the Carroll County community newspaper archives


>> Click here to search for stories published AFTER 2011

>> Use this search box to find stories published prior to 2011.
Note: All Words is a more strict search. Implied operator is "AND."
Ex: Charles Dickens"
From
subscriber services email print comment


Billy Harrison, of Woodbine, sat inside his house, which rests on nearly 100 acres on the southern edge of Carroll County, and pondered what could happen to the farmland that's been in his family for 58 years.

"I don't want to sound selfish, but I really don't want my property to be turned into the office park/employment land," he said. "I'd like to leave it the same way ... with the same number of lots."

In one breath, Harrison expressed two issues that face his property:

• The proposed rezoning of his farm to an office park/employment center as proposed in the county's controversial Pathway Plan comprehensive rezoning; and

• Another proposal to change development formulas, which he fears could result in him losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in development rights.

If Pathways is approved as proposed, Harrison's farm, and perhaps others, could see fewer lots eligible for subdividing -- and thus less money down if and when it's ever sold.

Harrison notes that county officials have long said they'd like to protect agricultural land in Carroll, and in fact the county has a goal of preserving 100,000 acres.

But he notes that the Pathways Plan would turn his farm into prime development real estate, and he wonders what the tradeoff is for county residents.

"If people in this area want to keep the county the same way they are, do (county officials) really need to change it?" he said.

Lot rights and wrongs

The Pathways proposal has raised concerns of residents in several areas where new employment centers and being proposed -- many attended a public hearing on the plan on July 14 to express opposition.

But lesser known is another Pathways provision that would change the formula dictating how many residential lots farmers are entitled to.

The change, in Chapter 103 of the plan, indicates some farmers could lose development lots by changing the way lots are calculated.

"Most (farm) properties in most instances will lose one lot yield, at a minimal," said Clay Black, Carroll County bureau chief of development review. "Some may lose more."

Many farm properties have multiple deeds -- even if they are owned by the same family -- and in the past, the county has allowed those parcels to each be counted toward a development plan.

But Pathways is proposing to lump individual lots together when calculating a number of lots that can be built.

Farmers, and planners, say the change will result in fewer lots allowed.

"You're highly likely to get more yield if you have a multi-parcel situation than when you have a single, (combined) description," Black said. "The reason is that for each parcel, we consider a (buildable) lot right now."

"Some people, like Harrison, are saying that the yield will be reduced," Black said.

"That is a fact," he said. "That is true. I'm not going to dispute that."

A buildable lot in the county can range from $125,000 to $225,000, depending on location, said Daniel Hoff, of the Carroll County Association of Realtors. Under that scenario, the loss of even one lot would be costly to owners.

Harrison figures he will lose five to six lots under the proposal, equaling at least a $1.35 million loss.

"This is such a shock," he said.

Ag preservation door closing?

And even if the land is never developed, the recalculation might be costly if farmers enter preservation programs.

Because the farm would have fewer lots, its worth would drop — and so would the money offered through agricultural preservation programs, said Joe Kuhn, vice-president of the Carroll County Farm Bureau.

"It's taking value away from the farmland," he said. "... Any reduction in lot rights would affect overall offers to put in ag preservation."

Ralph Robertson, Carroll County agricultural preservation program manager, said farmers will continue to receive "fair market value" for any land put into preservation.

Yet, fair market value could decrease because of the changes, Hoff said. And he suggested that it's by design -- making ag preservation more possible for the county and state by making land more affordable to purchase.

Because the lost lot rights and the decreased value, the county can buy more land for less money, he said.

The state recently informed the county that it will not fund the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation program for 2010, which started July 1, Robertson said.

"They shut it down for 2010," he said. "We were ready to solicit to sign people."

Still, the county is picking up some of the slack, and so Robertson said officials are moving forward with four ag preservation offers -- out of 33 applicants.

And for those moving ahead now, Robertson said he's operating under the current zoning, not whatever is proposed.

"We're working under what's there right now," he said. "Until I'm told differently in any respect, I'm working on values, lot rights — they're the things appraisers are looking at."

The $17 million that the county funded for ag preservation in the fiscal 2010 budget goes to several preservation programs, so farmers might have to choose a different program. Robertson encourages farmers to go to their financial planners to see what the best program will be for them.

None of this will likely aid Harrison.

Even if he decided to pursue preservation of his land, and even if he did get into a preservation program and even if there were money — Harrison might not be eligible because his property is proposed to be in a designated growth area.

Any farm in a "growth boundary" is not eligible for the ag preservation program, said Brenda Dinne, Carroll County bureau chief of comprehensive planning.

The bottom line, said Harrison, is that he and other Woodbine residents don't want to be forgotten in the mix as other communities — including Mount Airy and Taylorsville — fight the employment park issue.

Harrison's land alone represents about 22 percent of the proposed office park/employment land in Woodbine.

He said he and his wife, Victoria, want to retire on the farm with the money from the ag preservation program paying to protect the farmland. His vision also includes subdividing his property so his daughter will have some land to live on.

He knows he could get more from a developer, but he doesn't want to go that route.

"Realistically, if we were offered money for the land, we'd have a fortune brought to us," Harrison said. "But we're not in it for that."


user comments (0)


Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Baltimore Sun: Baltimore breaking news, sports, business, entertainment, weather and traffic
xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Learn more about subscriptions
Learn more about subscriptions
Advertisement
Every game looms large for the Ravens as they enter the last six weeks of this season, clinging to the AFC’s No. 1 seed and to their perch atop the AFC North. But seasoned members of the organization say Steelers week remains a thing apart, even if the games are not as bitter as they once were.
With Mark Turgeon's departure, Maryland officials said a national search would begin after this season. But their research has no doubt already begun.
What the Orioles did in this portion of the offseason before the lockout seemed different from how they’ve operated in the past. Perhaps if change is forced on them when the game resumes, they’ll be ready.
Advertisement
Maryland health officials announced Friday the detection of the first three case of the COVID-19 omicron variant, all in the Baltimore area.
Here’s what you need to know about Maryland men's basketball interim coach Danny Manning, a former coach at Wake Forest and Tulsa, a college star at Kansas and the No. 1 overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft.
The Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the landlord of Baltimore’s Copycat building, saying he can evict tenants without having a rental license.
Baltimore police say that a suspect is in custody in relation to the killing of 69-year-old Evelyn Player last month.
The video shows three adults holding down a student on the floor of the cafeteria. One of them punches the student in the head twice and holds on to his hair while the other adult appears to hold the student’s arms down.
Advertisement
Advertisement
There are some foods with unexpectedly long shelf lives. But for every can of beans or jar of honey, there are the foods that seem to spoil the moment you bring them home. Use these tips, tricks and leftover ideas for extending the life and use of your fresh produce, milk, meat and more.
The portrait by MICA grad Jerrell Gibbs will be displayed in Baltimore through Jan. 9, and will then travel to its permanent home in the U.S. Capitol building.
Valentina Yorro, 64, loved caring for her grandchildren, volunteering at a local school to help students with special needs, and working at her church, her children said.
The Ravens could be on the verge of solving a problem that has hampered them for years, columnist Mike Preston writes. Their postseason fate might depend on it.
A hearing is scheduled for Monday as the General Assembly begins a special session to approve new boundaries for the state's congressional districts. Lawmakers are expected to approve a final map within the week.
Maryland's seat of government is in Annapolis. But if elected governor, Rushern L. Baker III said he'd move his office to Baltimore for most of the year.
This weekend, the 75-year-old performer is back in his hometown, bringing to life a concert that revisits his youth in Baltimore and the obstacles he overcame on his path to stardom.
Mentally ill inmates at Maryland’s prisons are being unconstitutionally held in solitary confinement, exacerbating their illnesses and violating their rights against being submitted to cruel and unusual punishment, according to a federal lawsuit.
Advertisement

Free Fun & Games

  • Picturing Maryland: A photo a day for 2021 part 3
    Daily Crossword
  • Picturing Maryland: A photo a day for 2021 part 3
    Jumble Daily in color
  • Picturing Maryland: A photo a day for 2021 part 3
    Daily Solitaire
  • Picturing Maryland: A photo a day for 2021 part 3
    Bubble Shooter HD
  • Picturing Maryland: A photo a day for 2021 part 3
    2020 Connect
  • Picturing Maryland: A photo a day for 2021 part 3
    Cookie Crush
  • Picturing Maryland: A photo a day for 2021 part 3
    Butterfly Kyodai
  • Picturing Maryland: A photo a day for 2021 part 3
    Classic Mahjong
  • Picturing Maryland: A photo a day for 2021 part 3
    Daily Sudoku
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

The Baltimore Sun Store

Advertisement

GAMES & TRIVIA

Advertisement