Chenango looks into protecting its valuable farmland

NORWICH – A state program that protects viable agricultural land from future development could be useful in parts of the county reportedly seeing an influx of outsiders moving in, members of Chenango County Farmland Protection Board say.

Known as the Purchase of Development Rights program, the state ensures farmland will stay farmland – and not become a subdivision or commercial site – by reimbursing farmers for 75 percent of their property’s development value.

The money gives farmers incentive to keep their land in agriculture, rather than sell to residential or commercial developers.

Since the state technically takes ownership of the development rights, the land should stay in agriculture “forever,” a term an official familiar with program admits is subjective to legal interpretations.

The county Farmland Protection Board is “exploring” the implementation of the program in Chenango.

“We’ve been talking about purchasing development rights for a long time,” said board president Terry Ives, a Guilford Dairy farmer. “We just weren’t sure how to go about it.”

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