Concerned Citizens of Western Howard County, CCWHCo

Agricultural Preservation 

Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Program (ALPP)

The Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Program (ALPP) is a voluntary program that encourages farmers and other large property owners to preserve large tracts of land in the rural west rather than sell it for development. Since 1978, the county has been protecting farmland through the ALPP using three methods:

  1. the purchase of agricultural preservation easements by the County,
  2. the dedication of agricultural preservation parcels as provided for in the County's zoning regulations, and
  3. the purchase of agricultural preservation easements by the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.

Using these tools, the County has preserved over 21,000 acres of farmland, as of Spring 2011, in the Rural West of Howard County. Joy Levy 410-313-5407, is the current Agricultural Preservation Administrator.

Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Board (ALPB)

The ALPB reviews and evaluates land owners' applications using ALPP criteria and makes recommendations to the County Executive on the acquisition of new agricultural land preservation easement properties, reviews proposals concerning land already subject to an easement and assists ALPP staff with policy creation and refinement.

County Purchased Easements - If a land owner's property meets certain size and soil criteria, he may choose to sell a perpetual easement to the county, while holding fee simple title to the land and continuing to farm. The farm may be sold in the future, but the easement, which restricts the development of the property, remains with the land and binds all future owners.

Policy - The primary regulatory framework for the ALPP is Section 15.500 of the Howard County Code. In addition to the laws that govern the program, there are many policies that implement its goals. For specific forms please click on this Howard County Government link.

Forms and Procedures - There are various procedures to follow and forms to file if the property owner wishes to exercise lot and dwelling rights guaranteed when entering the ALPP. For specific forms please click on this Howard County Government link.

County Dedicated Easements - The ALPP also accepts agricultural easements dedicated to the County as a result of the subdivision process, either as density sending parcels or cluster subdivision residue parcels. For specific forms please click on this Howard County Government link.

Maryland Agricultural Preservation Foundation (MALPF)

In addition to easements purchased by the Howard County ALPP, the MALPF program also purchases agricultural easements, and has acquired almost 4,000 easement acres in Howard County. The MALPF program is administered locally. Questions or requests pertaining to MALPF properties should be directed to Joy Levy 410-313-5407.

Easement Termination Policy

All MALPF easements prior to 2004 contain a provision that allows a property owner to petition to buy back their development rights from the State after 25 years, if it can be shown that profitable farming is no longer feasible on the property.

For an easement to be terminated, both MALPF and the county's governing body must approve the owner's request. MALPF's responsibilty is to judge economic feasibility. Howard County executive Ken Ulman has approved a policy for termination review that focuses on land use priorities, including consistency with comprehensive planning goals and the effect of termination on vicinal properties.

The MALPF easement was originally intended to be perpetual. Termination would require extraordinary circumstances. Howard County will work very hard to protect the investment it has made in agricultural preservation over the years.


Copyright 2011 Concerned Citizens of Western Howard County
P.O. Box 243, Lisbon, MD 21765, 410-489-2767

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