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Lewes, Delaware
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October 2, 1998     Cape Gazette
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October 2, 1998

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12 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, October 2 - OctoberS, 1998 Farmland Continued from page 1 An unabashed advocate of farmland preservation and the benefits of the program, McGrath pointed out that Delaware is still very much a farming state. "Delaware is the nation's sixth- leading farm state in terms of the percentage of land in farms - rank- ing right up there with states .like Iowa and Kansas. We have 47 percent of our land .in farms; Maryland has 36 percent,. Penn- sylvania 25 percent and New Jer- sey 18 percent. That's based on the census definition of farms." Good ground preserved McGrath said that Delaware's program is preserving high-class farm ground by buying develop- ment rights forever. "We're taking big leaps to- ward our ma- jor goal of keeping the agriculture in- dustry viable in Delaware well into the MCGRATH next century. We are a farm state and we want to make sure that part of Delawtre's economic engine con- tinues. Agriculture continues to be the state's largest industry." McGrath said the state Depart- ment of Agriculture also believes that farmland preservation plays a major role in the overall beauty and appearance of the state. "The open spaces, habitat, vistas, his- toric buildings - all are preserved through this program That's im- portant to land utilization and the quality of life in Delaware. We believe that at the end of the day, we're better off preserving high- quality farmland rather than let- ring it go into development. And ultimately we believe that agricul- ture will do a better job in the long run of managing pollution. Turn- ing farmland into housing will on- ly increase the pollution load into our watersheds. We've been fo- cusing our efforts around the in- land bays and the other water- sheds to keep the land as much iri agriculture as possible. There's a bumper sticker around that says a bad day fishing is better than a good day working. We have our own idea for a sticker up here. A bad farm is better than a good de- velopment," said McGrath. "There are plenty of towns and villages with land in them and around them that can be devel- oped beautifully. We don't need to have developments popping up all across the countryside." 107,000 acres in process McGrath said Delaware farms wanting to participate in the preservation program must first sign up for agricultural districts, which provide tax incentives in re- turn for an agreement to not devel- op within 10 years. In the perma- nent preservation program, farm- ers sell their development rights forever for a price designed to equal the estimated difference be- tween development value of the land and farm value. "There are 107,000 acres of land in agricultural districts and the owners of three-quarters of those have applied for permanent preservation. There's a long wait- ing list. They have to be priori- tized and then appraised and then negotiations begin for a price. The legal document is quite sim- ple. It says that the land can be used only for agriculture, forestry or horticulture but never for resi- DOTTIE BARLEY OF HAIR ARTISTRY AND fENNIFER MELVIN ARE PLEASED TO WELCOME... HAIR ARTISTRY 108 2ND ST. (WALSH BUILDING) DAYTIME WALK-INS WELCOME - EVENING HOURS BT APPT. 645-7167 Dennis Forney photo The Warrington Vincent Farm on Route 1, north of Lewes, in the Overbrook area is one of the parcels in Sussex included in Delaware's farmland preservation program. dentiai, commercial or industrial uses," said McGrath. "An owner may use a limited amount for his immediate family or people who work on the farm but that acreage is strictly limited." Delaware signed its first farm for permanent preservation in 1996 and now is finishing signing the deeds for the end of round three of purchase of development rights. He said the final offers for development rights to be pur- chased in round four - which will add another 13,000 acres to ttie preservation rolls - are being com- pleted now. Applications for con- sideration in round five are due by the end. of this year. "Round five will result in anoth- er 10,000 acres preserved by the summer of 1999 and that will put us close to that 50,000-acre mark," said McGrath. He explained that Delaware has moved ahead quickly because of the money the state has put into the program. "The program re- ceived $40 million from the state's 21st Century Fund in 1996 and that's what got us rolling. That money rose but of a financial settlement with the state of New York involving abandoned bro- kerage accounts. Delaware re- ceived over $200 million and we used the money received by the Department of Agriculture to cat- apult ourselves into the high ranks of preservation," said McGrath. "This past June the General As- sembly approved another $20 mil- lion to be spent over the next three years and we have plans to go to the Legislature to keep the pro- gram rolling beyond that. When the Grange pushed for the farm- Continued on page 20 Install Instant Ambiance In 1 Hour with an ectraFire Electric Fireplace. Now you can safely create the look of a real fireplace in any room. All you need is a 110 electrical outlet and voila, 4,800 BTU's. What's more, it can be operated in warm weather without the heater element on so you can enjoy the beau- tiful glow without the heat. No One Bttild',l Better Fire A Beautiful Sight To Behold. Exclusively available in this area at Bluewater, Ltd. 671 Hwy. One (over the Nassau Bridge), Lewes 645-8119 IMmTIVUTI BLUEWATER, LTD.