[HISTORY: Adopted by the County Commissioners of Caroline County 3-4-1980. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This shall be known as the "Caroline County Agricultural Land Preservation Chapter."
This chapter is adopted for the following purposes:
To provide for the preservation of agricultural lands through the voluntary establishment of agricultural preservation districts and for the voluntary sale of development rights easements on eligible agricultural lands within Caroline County.
To provide for the protection of normal agricultural activities within established agricultural preservation districts.
To provide procedures for the creation and recording of Official Agricultural Preservation District Maps.
To protect and provide for the public health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of Caroline County.
This chapter is adopted by virtue of the authority of the Agriculture Article, §§ 2-501 through 2-515, of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
As used in this chapter, the following words and phrases shall be defined as follows:
- ADVISORY BOARD
- The Caroline County Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board.
- COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
- The County Commissioners of Caroline County.
- The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.
- PLANNING COMMISSION
- The Caroline County Planning Commission.
Agricultural preservation districts established in Caroline County shall provide for the protection of normal agricultural activities in the districts through the following provisions:
Any farm use of land is permitted.
Operation of any machinery used in farm production or the primary processing of agricultural products is permitted at any time.
All normal agricultural operations performed in accordance with good husbandry practices, which do not cause bodily injury or directly endanger human health, are permitted, including but not limited to the sale of farm products produced on the farm where such sales are made and activities which may produce noise, odor, vibration, fumes, dust or glare.
Official maps of agricultural preservation districts shall be kept and shall be revised from time to time to reflect the establishment, alteration and abolition of agricultural preservation district boundaries. The official map shall be made current at least once a year by June 30 of each year and shall be published at the same scale as the Department of Assessment and Taxation Tax Maps. The official maps and all revisions thereto shall be certified by the Clerk to the County Commissioners.
Copies of all Official Agricultural Preservation District Maps shall be located in the offices of the Caroline County Planning Department at the Courthouse in Denton and shall be available for public inspection.
Upon receipt of a petition to establish an agricultural preservation district, the County Commissioners shall refer the petition and accompanying materials to both the Advisory Board and to the Planning Commission.
Within 60 days of the referral of a petition, the Advisory Board shall inform the County Commissioners whether the land in the proposed district meets the qualifications established under § 74-8 of this chapter and whether the Advisory Board recommends establishment of the district.
Within 60 days of the referral of a petition, the Planning Commission shall inform the County Commissioners whether establishment of the district is compatible with existing and approved County plans, programs and overall County policy and whether the Planning Commission recommends establishment of the district.
If either the Advisory Board or the Planning Commission recommends approval, the County Commissioners shall hold a public hearing on the petition. Adequate notice of the hearing shall be given to all landowners in the proposed district, to landowners adjacent to the proposed district, as far as feasible, and to the Foundation. If neither body recommends approval of the petition, the County Commissioners shall deny the petition and notify the landowner or landowners and the Foundation, stating the reasons for the denial.
Within 120 days after the receipt of the petition, the County Commissioners shall render a decision on whether the petition shall be recommended to the Foundation for approval.
If the County Commissioners decide to recommend approval of the petition, they shall so notify the Foundation and forward to the Foundation the petition and all accompanying materials, including the recommendations of the Advisory Board and Planning Commission, and a composite property boundary map of the proposed district.
If the County Commissioners recommend denial of the petition, they shall so inform the Foundation and the petitioner or petitioners, stating the reasons for this denial.
Upon formal notification by the Foundation that the petition has been approved and the agricultural preservation district agreement has been signed by all parties and recorded in the land records of Caroline County, the County Commissioners shall establish the agricultural preservation district by resolution.
Productive capability criteria.
Agricultural preservation districts shall consist of land which is either used primarily for the production of food or fiber or is of such open space character and productive capability that continued agricultural production is feasible.
The majority of the land area of any agricultural preservation district should consist of United States Department of Agriculture Soil Capability Classes I, II and III or United States Department of Agriculture Woodland Groups 1 and 2.
Exceptions may include land areas of lower general capability but which are characterized by special capabilities or production as a result of soil, microclimatic, topographic or hydrologic features and areas of existing, extensive, specialized production, including dairying, livestock and poultry production and fruit and berry production.
District size criteria. An agricultural preservation district may not be less than 100 contiguous acres, except that less than 100 contiguous acres may constitute a district where smaller areas are characterized by special capabilities or production as a result of soil, microclimatic, topographic or hydrologic features.
Locational criteria. Land within the boundaries of a ten-year water and sewerage service district may be included in an agricultural preservation district only if that land is outstanding in productivity and is of significant size.