Park Township votes to opt into Ottawa County's farmland preservation program

What’s happening: Momentum continues to build for Ottawa County’s farmland preservation initiative, where Park Township’s Board of Trustees recently voted to opt in to the county’s Purchase of Development Rights Program. Park Township becomes the 11th such township to participate in the county-wide program.

What it is: The Purchase of Development Rights Program offers Ottawa County farmers the opportunity to ensure that their farms will remain farms, and long after a particular farmer has moved on to new pastures. The program utilizes state and federal grants, as well as the privately-funded Ottawa County Farmland Preservation Program Fund, to purchase development rights from farmers. The farmers still own their land and retain their rights to it while also being compensated for lost development potential, preventing future property owners from selling farms to developers looking to build something non-agricultural atop the land.

[Related: Read “Nearly 500 acres of Michigan farmland preserved as a result of this statewide program” on Rural Innovation Exchange.]

Why they did it: "Our board and our community recognize the significant cultural heritage farms bring to Park Township," says Township Manager Howard Fink. "We also acknowledge there is quite a bit of pressure, from a development perspective, on ag properties within our township."

Mark and Norma Jongekrijg (left) and Tom Holstege are receiving grants to assist in the protection of each of their farms. (Photos: Rich C. Lakeberg / Ottawa County)New members: Farmers in Park Township won’t have to travel far to get the opinions of the program’s newest participants, as two Zeeland Township farms have recently been awarded grants toward their paticipation in the program. The 92-acre Jongekrijg Farm is receiving funding from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the USDA's Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and the 38-acre Holstege Farm is receiving funding from the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. Landowners must donate a minimum of 26 percent of the Fair Market Value of development rights before being paid the remaining balance of said rights and these grants should help with that.

Why it’s important: "My parents told me they always wanted to see it stay a farm," says Zealand Township farmer and landowner Mark Jongekrijg. "I thought, 'Well, I'm going to do what I can to preserve it that way.' With these funds, I believe we can."

Visit Ottawa County online to learn more about the Purchase of Development Rights Program and ongoing farmland preservation efforts in the county.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
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