Delaware County Commissioners Thursday approved a resolution moving forward with doing the title work for the Farmland Preservation Program.

Scott Stevens, district manager of the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District, approached commissioners with two resolutions for the Ohio Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation program.

Commissioners tabled the resolution Monday that contained an agreement between the commissioners and and Title First Agency Inc. to search titles that will be entered into the program. Commissioners asked for reassurances that the interest of all county land owners were protected before moving forward with the program.

“What we have to take into consideration is not what is going to happen next year, but what is going to be down the road 10 to 15 years of what could happen,” said county commissioner Gary Merrell. “Somehow that document has got to reflect the possibility of development up stream from that area, not just the current status quo.”

Ferzan Ahmed, county administrator, said the next step is looking at appraisals. Once the appraisals are done county departments will look at the property to determine if easements need to be put in place. “If easements are needed, we will put those easements in the deed,” he said.

In March county commissioners agreed to be local sponsors of the program, the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program, that preserves farmland for future agricultural use and prohibits any industrial or housing developments on designated farmland.

That month Merrell brought up the concern about how people on both sides of the issue were affected. “I take it very seriously that we have a need to protect the rights of everyone in this county on both sides of this issue,” he said.

At that time Aric Hochstettler, an assistant county prosecutor, suggested commissioners identify corridors of property that could be reserved for easements and future development. “This way the board could be very specific as to where they wanted road rights of way and utility easements for future use,” he said.

The commissioners approved a resolution to submit an application to the Ohio Department of Agriculture Office of Farmland Preservation.

By D. Anthony Botkin

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D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.