MOUNT VERNON — Building on the public interest generated by the Mescher farm auction last week, advocates of rural preservation met with the Knox County Commissioners on Monday to discuss reviving the idea of a Knox County Agricultural Easement Program Supplement fund.
Roger Stallard, executive director of the Owl Creek Conservancy; Lisa Schott, director of the Philander Chase Corp.; and Doug Givens, former director of Chase and one-time chair of the Farmland Preservation Task Force, asked the commissioners to consider the idea, last raised in 2003.
Basically, it would create a local fund to provide matching funds for the state’s agricultural easement purchase program, and to leverage other funds for easement projects to preserve rural areas from development.
They reviewed the recent history of farmland preservation efforts in Knox County, starting with a grant in 1998 from the Ohio Department of Development to establish a Knox County Farmland Preservation Task Force.
That body issued a report in 2000 that contained eight recommendations. The same year, voters approved the Clean Ohio Fund, under which the Ohio Department of Agriculture established the Agricultural Easement Purchase Program.
In 2002, the task force morphed into the Regional Planning Commission’s Farmland Preservation Committee, which in 2003 recommended that a Cost of Community Services study be done for the county, and in February 2003 the Planning Commission agreed to fund half of the $16,000 cost of the study. Funding for the other half of the study expense came from nine other community organizations.
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