Great Ways to Conserve Land:
Michigan's Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program was established in 1995. The PDR program works by compensating landowners who voluntarily preserve their agricultural property injecting much-needed dollars into Michigan's agri-business operations. Under the program the state buys the development rights to the land and places an easement on the property restricting any future non-agricultural development. Farmland protection programs benefit everyone by helping to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy, and protecting open spaces for the next generation. During the period that such an agreement is in force, the township may not impose special assessments for sanitary sewers, water, lights or non-farm drainage on the land except for the dwelling or non-farm structures. Any land exempted from the assessment is denied use of the improvement.
Under PA 116, an owner has the right to claim a credit against the state income tax and state single business tax. Where the credit exceeds the state income tax or state single business tax, the balance is reimbursed to the owner by the state, not to exceed the total property tax on the land and premises payable by the owner. Tax penalties are provided for early termination of an agreement, if that is permitted by the state. The development rights under an open space agreement are exempt from ad valorem taxes. The production of Christmas trees can qualify as a farm subject to development rights agreements. For more information, visit www.farmland.org.
Many local conservationists are also familiar with non-profit land trusts as an effective way to save land from development. Land trusts have been around since 1891, but became popular in the 1990's. Open space can be preserved in a variety of ways with land trusts: buy open space and preserve; buy it and transfer it to the government or other agencies; or obtain conservation easements that prevent its use for development. Today 1263 land trusts nationwide have placed 6.37 million acres - mostly wetlands and river corridors - into protective custody. For more details on land trusts, visit www.lta.org. Wouldn't it be great to start programs like these in Dayton Township? The key to this activity is strong local leadership and, of course, funding. Call Shirley Hooker (231) 924-3946 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Disappearing Michigan Farm:
Michigan had lost 74% of its farms in the past century, and the acreage of farmland has fallen 41%.
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