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Executive Summary
Agriculture has long been an important industry in Licking County, and a dominant part of this County's landscape. Current trends in the development of housing, business, and other non-agricultural industries, however, are rapidly changing the landscape of Licking County and threatening its agricultural industry and way of life. The Licking County Farmland Preservation Task Force was formed on November 13, 2000 by the Licking County Board of Commissions (Commissioners Journal 32-436) to develop the Licking County Farmland Preservation Plan. The Task Force was charged with developing a plan to preserve precious farmland in the County. The Task Force embraced this charge broadly, considering ways to protect the agricultural industry, community, and way of life in Licking County, while allowing for the responsible development of industry, business, and housing.
 
The Task Force spent eight months learning about historical trends in farmland loss in the County, the economic and community benefits of farmland preservation, and the tools available to achieve that goal. In the period between 1959 and 1997, the number of farms in Licking County has been halved. In the fifteen years between 1982 and 1997, the value of farmland has nearly doubled (to $2,497/acre). Contributing to the loss of farmland is the aging farm population (the majority of farmers are over 65 years of age), and they may no longer farm and have no one to take over and continue the farm. The rising cost of farmland makes it exceedingly difficult for young farmers to get started.
 
The Task Force developed and implemented the Licking County Landowners Survey, which was sent to landowners registered in the Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) program. CAUV registered land owners were chosen in order to elicit the opinions of those County residents who are involved in agriculture. Surveys were mailed to a random sample of 387 CAUV registered landowners; 236 (61%) were returned. Respondents indicate strong support for farmland protection goals, programs to strengthen the agricultural industry, and preservation of the rural character of the County. The findings of the CAUV survey were compared to those from a previous survey of the general public by the Licking County Planning Commission (The Licking County Community Attitude Survey). The earlier survey of Licking County residents obtained similar results, showing broad support for the preservation of agricultural resources. This strong evidence of County residents' desire to preserve farmland was taken as a mandate by the Task Force. The Task Force thus calls on local decision makers - County Commissioners, Township Trustees, and elected and appointed officials in the municipalities of the County -- to adopt the following plan for farmland preservation. The Task Force presents this plan with the belief that it will provide the communities of Licking County with the tools they need to control their own futures.
 
Basic tools include comprehensive plans and proper zoning, and this plan urges that they be used in order to preserve farmland. Comprehensive planning is a powerful means by which townships, municipalities, and the County can envision their future and achieve that vision. In the context of farmland preservation, the comprehensive plan can identify those areas to be protected for agriculture and those areas in which development (commercial, industrial, or residential) is to be encouraged through appropriate zoning. Proper zoning then provides the legal mechanism to guide the vision of the comprehensive plan. This plan also endorses the use of the following tools:
 
»Increase the recoupment period for lands removed from CAUV
CAUV is important in providing preferential assessment to reduce the tax burden on farmers, but alone is unable to preserve farmland in the face of development pressure. The Task Force believes that the recoupment period should be lengthened and the money designated to fund purchase of development rights programs. The Task Force calls on local elected officials to sponsor a State Bill that would make it a local option to extend the recoupment period and use the funds for farmland preservation initiatives.
»Establish Agricultural Districts
»Enact Right to Farm Ordinances/Resolutions
»Utilize Agricultural Supportive Zoning
»Establish programs to strengthen agriculture in the County
»Establish a Licking County Farmland Preservation Coordinator
 
 
 
Contact
Main line: (740) 670-5200
Fax: (740) 670-5197
 
Staff
 
Gerald A. Newton, AICP - Director
LCPC/LCATS Executive Director
 
Planning
Brad Mercer, Planning Manager
Chris Harkness, Planner II
Jeanette DeRenne, AICP - Senior Planner
Angela Werner, Assistant Planner
 
LCATS
Sandie Mapel, Director
Matt Hill, Transportation Planner
Kyle Schaper, GISP - GIS Data Manager and Transportation Planner
Todd Fortune, Assistant Planner
 
Development
Beth Jones, Development Specialist
Sue Spiker, Grants Coordinator
Jim Evans, Housing Rehabilitation Inspector
 
Support Staff
Marty Dowell, Fiscal officer
Katie Cline, Administrative Assistant
 
Email Staff
 


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