2-509. Foundation regulations and procedures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a)  Regulations and procedures to be adopted.-  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) The Foundation shall follow the provisions under this section for the easement application process for: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(i) Properties without established districts; and 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(ii) Properties entering into a district. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2) The Foundation shall adopt regulations and procedures for: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(i) Establishment and monitoring of agricultural districts and easements; 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(ii) Evaluation of land to be included within agricultural districts or land to be subject to an easement; and 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(iii) Purchase of easements, including the purchase of easements under an installment purchase agreement. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(b)  Regulations and procedures for establishment and monitoring of agricultural districts.- Regulations and procedures adopted by the Foundation for the establishment and monitoring of agricultural districts and for the purchase of easements shall provide that: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) One or more owners of land actively devoted to agricultural use may file a petition with the county governing body requesting the establishment of an agricultural district or an application for the purchase of an easement by the Foundation on the land owned by the petitioners. The petition shall include maps and descriptions of the current use of land in the proposed district or for the proposed easement. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2) Upon receipt of a petition to establish an agricultural district or application to purchase an easement the local governing body shall refer the petition or application and accompanying materials both to the agricultural preservation advisory board and to the county planning and zoning body. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(i) Within 60 days of the referral of a petition or application, the agricultural preservation advisory board shall advise the county governing body as to whether or not the land in the proposed district or proposed easement meets the qualifications established by the Foundation under subsection (d) of this section, and whether or not the advisory board recommends establishment of the district or the purchase of the easement. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(ii) Within 60 days of the referral of a petition or application, the county planning and zoning body shall advise the local governing body as to whether or not establishment of the district or the purchase of the easement is compatible with existing and approved county plans and overall county policy, and whether or not the planning and zoning body recommends establishment of the district or the purchase of the easement. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(3) If either the agricultural preservation advisory board or the planning and zoning body recommends approval, the county governing body shall hold a public hearing on the petition or for the proposed easement. Adequate notice of the hearing shall be given to all landowners in the proposed district or the proposed easement, and to the Foundation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(4) (i) Within 120 days after the receipt of the petition or application, the county governing body shall render a decision as to whether or not the petition or application shall be recommended to the Foundation for approval. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(ii) If the county governing body decides to recommend approval of the petition or application, it shall so notify the Foundation and forward to the Foundation the petition or application and all accompanying materials, including the recommendations of the advisory board and county planning and zoning body. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(iii) If the county governing body recommends denial of the petition, it shall so inform the Foundation and the petitioners. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(5) The Foundation may approve a petition for the establishment of an agricultural district only if: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(i) The land within the proposed district meets the qualifications established under subsection (d) of this section; 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(ii) The petition has been approved by the county governing body; and 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(iii) The establishment of the district or the purchase of the easement is approved by a majority of the Foundation board of trustees at-large, by the Secretary, and by the State Treasurer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(6) The Foundation shall render its decision on a petition to establish an agricultural district within 60 days of the receipt of the petition, and shall inform the county governing body and the petitioners of its decision. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(7) (i) If the Foundation approves the petition, the agricultural district shall be established by an ordinance of the county governing body. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(ii) The establishment of the district shall not take effect until all landowners in the proposed district have executed and recorded among the land records an agreement with the Foundation stipulating that for a specified period of time from the establishment of the agricultural district, the landowner agrees to keep his land in agricultural use and has the right to offer to sell an easement for development rights on his land to the Foundation under the provisions of this subtitle. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(iii) In the ordinance that establishes an agricultural district: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. The county governing body shall establish the length of time required for a district agreement under subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph; and 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. The time period of the district agreement shall be from 3 to 10 years, both inclusive. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(iv) In the event of severe economic hardship the Foundation, with the concurrence of the county governing body, may release the landowner's property from the agricultural district. Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Foundation regarding a determination of severe economic hardship is entitled to judicial review. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(v) Nothing in this section shall preclude the landowner from selling his property. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(8) At any time after the period of time stipulated in the district agreement, a landowner may terminate his property as an agricultural district by notifying the Foundation one year in advance of his intention to do so. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(9) After the establishment of an agricultural district the county governing body or the Foundation may review the use of land within the district. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(10) The Foundation may approve alteration or abolition of a district only if: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(i) The use of land within the district has so changed as to cause land within the district to fail to meet the qualifications established under subsection (d) of this section; 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(ii) The alteration or abolition of the district has been recommended by the county governing body; and 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(iii) The alteration or abolition is approved by a majority of the Foundation board of trustees at-large, by the Secretary, and by the State Treasurer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(c)  Regulations and procedure for establishment and monitoring of agricultural districts - Special requirements for certain counties.- Regulations and procedures adopted by the Foundation for the establishment and monitoring of agricultural districts and easements may not require, in Garrett County or Allegany County, a natural gas rights owner or lessee to subordinate its interest to the Foundation's interest if the Foundation determines that exercise of the natural gas rights will not interfere with an agricultural operation conducted on land in the agricultural district or land subject to an easement. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(d)  Land which may be included in agricultural district.- Regulations and criteria developed by the Foundation relating to land which may be included in an agricultural district or subject to an easement shall provide that: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) Subject to item (2) of this subsection, land shall meet productivity, acreage, and locational criteria determined by the Foundation to be necessary for the continuation of farming; 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2) As long as all other criteria are met, land that is at least 50 acres in size shall qualify for inclusion in an agricultural district or easement; 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(3) The Foundation shall attempt to preserve the minimum number of acres in a given district which may reasonably be expected to promote the continued availability of agricultural suppliers and markets for agricultural goods; 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(4) Land within the boundaries of a 10-year water and sewer service district may be included in an agricultural district or easement only if that land is outstanding in productivity and is of significant size; and 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(5) Land may be included in an agricultural district or easement only if the county regulations governing the land permit the activities listed under 2-513(a) of this subtitle. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1977, ch. 883; 1986, ch. 5, 1; 1994, ch. 3, 1; 1995, ch. 3, 1; 1996, ch. 10, 1; 1999, ch. 653; 2000, ch. 61, 1; 2001, ch. 642; 2003, ch. 117; 2004, ch. 189; 2005, ch. 25, 1; 2006, ch. 192; 2007, ch. 650.]