What is BALANCED GROWTH?
Balanced Growth is a voluntary, incentive-based strategy to protect and restore Lake Erie, the Ohio River, and Ohio's watersheds to assure long-term economic competitivness, ecological health, and quality of life.
Two such plans have been developed for watersheds in medina county.
Upper Chippewa Creek Watershed Balanced Growth Plan
Rocky River Upper West Branch Balanced Growth Plan
What is a conservation easement?
Conservation Easement (CE) is a set of restrictions a landowner
voluntarily places on his or her property in order to preserve its
conservation values. The
conservation values of the property and the restrictions created to
preserve those values, along with the rights reserved by the landowner,
are detailed in a legal document known as a conservation easement.
This document is attached to the deed and filed with the local
county land records.
landowner retains all rights to the property not specifically restricted
or relinquished by the CE. The
landowner still owns the land and has the right to use it for any purpose
that is consistent with the CE, to sell, to transfer or to pass on to
heirs through a will. The
right to restrict public access is also at the option of the landowner.
The landowner remains responsible for the land, for its maintenance
and upkeep, for paying taxes and for otherwise meeting the typical
obligations of land ownership. CEs
add only a few further requirements: notification to the CE holder of
proposed changes to the property; the allowance of annual monitoring
visits; notification when selling or transferring the property; and
compliance with the restrictions in the CE.
easements held by a separate & independent third party have a
significantly greater chance of standing the test of time.
An appropriate third-party holder, whether it is the SWCD or
another organization, can guarantee the protection of valuable
environmental resources such as stream corridors, wetlands, and other
unique vegetative communities. Additionally,
the third party will have the expertise and interest in adequately
addressing easement violations. Other local organizations that can assist
landowners with CEs include the
Reserve Land Conservancy, Medina-Summit Land Chapter
and the Medina County Park District.
|Farmland Protection Program|
Agricultural Easements - similar to Conservation Easements.
Contact Western Reserve Land Conservancy Medina Office 440 528-4183
Presented below is a summary of the techniques to help preserve agricultural lands and open space.
Purchase of development right (PDR) programs use public money to purchase development rights to privately owned land. PDR programs are generally seen as more permanent approach to preserving agricultural lands and open space than traditional zoning-type methods. In such a program, a landowner is paid the fair market value of the development rights of his/her property and an easement restricts houses from being built on the land. The value of the development rights is generally calculated as the difference between the development value and the agricultural value of the land. Funding for PDR programs varies, with many communities funding their own programs through bonding or tax schemes.
For more information, check out the Ohio State University (OSU) Extension Fact Sheet on the Purchase of Development Rights.
Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs differ somewhat from PDR programs in that the development rights are generally transferred directly from the farmer or landowner to the developer, using private funds. With such a program, permitted housing units are transferred from an agricultural area (often referred to as a "sending zone") to another area where development is desired and which is often serviced by existing infrastructure (a "receiving zone"). The developer then compensates the farmer directly for the value of the development rights in exchange for using those rights in the receiving area. These programs are largely voluntary, and most require little public expenditure.
For more information, check out the OSU Extension Fact Sheet on the Transfer of Development Rights.
Zoning is a traditional method for communities to control development in rural and undeveloped areas. It is different from typical zoning in that agricultural zoning is intended to protect a resource rather than to just give order to development. Increasingly, zoning efforts have become more innovative, often including such schemes as sliding scales and agricultural security areas. Agricultural security areas help protect blocks of agricultural land, are initiated by landowners, require a large minimum lot size, and must be kept in agricultural use for the length of the agreement. In exchange, the community agrees to minimize the impact of adjacent development on agriculture. Other zoning options include lowering the density permitted in agricultural areas or utilizing cluster development layouts to protect farmland. Other zoning techniques include: overlay zoning, quarter-quarter zoning, and sliding scale zoning.
Private land trusts are becoming increasingly common around the country, and provide a means for permanently preserving land as open space or agriculture. Land trusts can be defined as "a non-profit grassroots conservation organization directly involved in protecting natural, recreational, scenic, agricultural, historic, or cultural property. Many land trusts manage land owned by others, advise landowners on how to preserve their land, or help negotiate conservation transactions in which they plan no other role.
Conservation development or open space development are concepts included in the zoning ordinance of a community, and represent a way to allow development to occur in a manner which leaves large blocks of open space or farmland. More specifically, conservation development concentrates buildings in specific areas on the site to allow the remaining land to be used as open space or for other preservation purposes. Planned Unit Developments are a common example of a clustered-type residential development. Conservation development often provides a municipality more flexibility regarding regulatory controls, preserving environmentally sensitive areas of a site while concentrating development on the most suitable land.
For more information on land use planning and conservation development, check out the Community Planning Program Website and/or contact Kirby Date, Program Coordinator at (216) 295-0511. A resource manual of practices for planning and design is available and highly recommended as a source of information. Additional information can be obtained from the OSU Extension Fact Sheet on Cluster Development.
A less common method for preserving open space and natural features is the requirement of deed restriction. Deed restrictions can be required of new developments, or negotiated with current landowners. Such restrictions include prohibiting certain activities, which may harm environmentally sensitive areas on the property. A commonly cited advantage of this technique is that the restriction travels with the deed, and does not expire with a change in landowner.
The most common tax programs to promote agriculture are those that attempt to give farmers a tax incentive by lowering the assessed value of the farm property. Current use valuation is a common method, in which tax assessments are based on the land's current use rather than the development potential. In exchange, the farmer must keep the land as agriculture; penalties are often assessed when a property is converted to another use. These programs provide farmers with options to selling off land to developers.
Growth management techniques attempt to contain growth and prevent sprawl into undeveloped areas. Some general growth management techniques include: delineating urban growth boundaries, mechanisms for outright purchase of land, environmental corridors, greenbelts, and programs for incremental growth.
Capital Improvement Programming: The
scheduling of budgetary expenditures for infrastructure, thereby guiding
Outright donation: The donation of
land to a conservation organization.
Click here for a list of additional Agriculture and Natural Resources Web Sites