HOLLIDAYSBURG - Blair County is preparing to add more acreage to its farmland preservation program through a new option allowing property owners to donate their land or accept a lesser payment for an easement restricting development.
Commissioners reviewed plans last week for the county's 42nd conservation easement that could add 144 acres to the farmland preservation program.
Commissioners are expected to vote Tuesday on the proposal that will pay $171,500 to Mervin G. and Betty L. Brumbaugh for an easement on a portion of their Woodbury Township farm, south of Williamsburg.
Blair County Conservation District Director Donna Fisher is recommending commissioners approve the proposed purchase, with $136,000 provided by the state and $35,500 allocated from the county's general fund.
The state's money for farmland preservation program comes from cigarette tax revenue, she said. The county's portion, allocated annually by commissioners, makes use of remaining 2011 dollars.
Commissioners indicated that they will support the request.
"I think it's a win-win program," Commissioner Diane Meling said.
This will be the county's first purchase for less than the easement's value, Fisher said.
Rather than remain on a waiting list with more than 20 applicants, the Brumbaughs were willing to accept the county's offer based on funds available, which amounted to about 73 percent of the easement value, Fisher said.
This option, along with ability to accept land donated to the county's farmland preservation program, became available in December when the Blair County's agricultural land preservation program was recertified by the state Agricultural Land Preservation Board.
Owners willing to donate their land's easement may qualify for a tax deduction or other type of tax incentive, Fisher said.
Since 1991 when Blair County established its agricultural land preservation program, it has accepted acreage from 41 farms into the program, more than any neighboring county, with Centre County coming the closest with 38.
"We now lead the area in the number of farms preserved," Fisher said.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.