Harford County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Harford County Council as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Tax credit for agricultural preservation — See Ch. 123.
[Adopted by Bill No. 90-26]
As used in this Article, the following words have the meanings indicated:
APPLICANT
An owner who applies to sell an easement to the Foundation.
DEPARTMENT
The Department of Planning and Zoning.
EASEMENT
An encumbrance on land which restricts the owner's rights to develop or otherwise use the land for other than an agricultural use.
FOUNDATION
The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.
OWNER
A person with legal title to a parcel of land. "Owner" includes a successor in interest.
PROGRAM
The supplemental payment program established by this Article.
There is a county supplemental payment program for owners who sell easements to the Foundation.
A. 
The Department shall adopt regulations that establish:
(1) 
An evaluation system to rate features of an applicant's land that are relevant to the land's agricultural and development values; and
(2) 
A formula, based on the evaluation system, that determines the amount of the supplemental payment to be made to the applicant under the program.
B. 
At a minimum, the features rated under the evaluation system shall include:
(1) 
The size of the parcel of land;
(2) 
The location of the land;
(3) 
The soil quality of the land; and
(4) 
The road frontage of the land.
A. 
Unless the owner gives written notice to the Department that the owner does not wish to participate in the program, an owner's application to sell an easement to the Foundation constitutes an application to participate in the program.
B. 
Not later than forty-five (45) calendar days after an applicant receives an offer from the Foundation to purchase an easement, the Department shall give the applicant written notification of the amount of the supplemental payment to be made to the applicant.
C. 
If the applicant sells an easement to the Foundation and if funds for the program are available, the county shall pay the applicant the amount of the supplemental payment, as determined by the regulations adopted under this Article. Acceptance of the supplemental payment constitutes sale by the applicant of an easement to the county, subordinate to the easement held by the Foundation.
D. 
At the time of settlement of a payment under the program, the owner and the county may agree on either a lump-sum payment or a schedule of payments over a period of up to ten (10) years.
E. 
If a schedule of payments is agreed upon, the Treasurer shall retain in a separate account an amount sufficient to pay the owner according to the schedule.
The county shall record an easement, at county expense, on land for which payment is made under the program.
A. 
An owner who has received payment under the program and who has requested that the Foundation approve termination of an easement shall file a copy of the request with the Department.
B. 
Approval by the County Council of a request to terminate an easement under the Agriculture Article, § 2-514, of the Annotated Code of Maryland, constitutes approval to withdraw from the program.
C. 
If withdrawal from the program is approved, the owner shall repurchase the easement from the county by paying an amount equal to the total payment the owner received under the program, plus interest. The interest rate used to calculate the amount of interest shall be the same as the current redemption rate established by or under the authority of the Tax-Property Article, § 14-208, of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
D. 
Upon repurchase of the easement by the owner, the county shall reconvey and release its easement to the owner.
An owner who receives a partial release of or exclusion from an easement under the Agriculture Article, § 2-513, of the Annotated Code of Maryland may receive a partial release of or exclusion from the County's easement on the same land, to the same extent as the release or exclusion from the Foundation, upon payment to the County for the portion released or excluded at the price per acre that the County paid under the program for the easement.
[Added by Bill No. 91-80]
A. 
The County is authorized to purchase development rights from land owners who are in an Agriculture Preservation District and have offered during the first cycle of 1991 their development rights for sale to the state.
B. 
Funds for the purchase of these development rights shall be committed or expended by June 30, 1992.
C. 
The priority ranking for the purchase of development rights shall be the point rating system currently utilized by the Harford County Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board.
D. 
The County shall record an easement on the land for which payment is made under the authority of this section 60-8 in accordance with the conditions imposed on easements by the Maryland Agriculture Land Preservation Foundation.
[Adopted by Bill No. 93-2; amended in its entirety by Bill No. 07-05]
The purpose of the Harford County Agricultural Land Preservation and Purchase of Development Rights Program is to preserve productive agricultural land and woodland which provides for the continued production of food and fiber for the citizens of the County. This program is to be administered by the Department of Planning and Zoning and the Harford County Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board.
This program focuses on the purchasing of development rights and family conveyances from agricultural landowners and retiring those rights in perpetuity. If the development rights are purchased by the program, an easement is placed on the property. Under this easement, all future residential subdivision of the property is restricted except for owner/child lots as permitted under this program. This is a voluntary program that permits any owner of agricultural land which meets the minimum qualifying criteria listed in Section 60-12 of this article to apply to sell their development rights and family conveyances.
This program also allows any owner of agricultural land which meets the minimum qualifying criteria listed in § 60-12 of this article to apply to donate their development rights and family conveyances and have an easement placed on their property under the same terms and provisions contained in this article. [Added by Bill No. 11-07]
[Amended by Bill No. 11-07]
As used in this article, the following words have the meanings indicated:
AGRICULTURAL LAND
Land used primarily for agriculture with an agricultural zoning classification as identified on the most recently approved Harford County Zoning Maps.
AGRICULTURAL PRESERVATION DISTRICT
A minimum 5 year conservation easement in which no monetary value has been exchanged for its placement on the land.
AGRICULTURAL USE
Any use of land which directly contributes to the production, processing or storage of agricultural products as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture, including uses currently permitted within the Agricultural District of the Harford County Zoning Code that are directly related to agricultural activities.
BASE MULTIPLICATION EASEMENT VALUE
A multiplication factor applied to the valuation worksheet results to produce a per acre price.
CHILD
Natural or adopted child of the landowner.
CHILD'S LOT
A lot of 2 acres or less, designated for the exclusive residential use of a child of the landowner of record at the time of easement sale.
COMMITMENT LETTER
An offer made in writing, from the County to the applicant of record, specifying the ranking of the property and monetary value being offered for the proposed easement.
DEVELOPMENT RIGHT
The ability to create a residential lot as permitted under the existing agricultural zoning classification.
DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS EASEMENT
An encumbrance upon the land which restricts the owner's rights to develop or otherwise use the land for purposes other than agricultural uses.
EASEMENT PRIORITY RANKING (EPR)
The criteria used to rank applications submitted to the Agricultural Land Preservation and Purchase of Development Rights Program.
FAMILY CONVEYANCE
A permitted lot for any member of the immediate family of the owner of record as of February 8, 1977. Immediate family shall be limited to fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.
HARFORD COUNTY AGRICULTURAL LAND PRESERVATION ADVISORY BOARD
A 5 member board appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council.
INSTALLMENT PURCHASE AGREEMENT (IPA)
A written agreement between Harford County and the landowner of record at the time of easement sale that pays the landowner over a 10, 20, or 30 year time frame, as agreed upon by the County and landowner, for the placement of a conservation easement on their property.
LANDOWNER
An individual(s) who is the owner of record or an entity which is the owner of record, an entity shall include only those individuals who were members of the entity at the time the deed of easement was recorded.
MAXIMUM DEVELOPMENT RIGHT VALUE
The actual easement value paid to the landowner based on the number of development rights associated with the property, including family conveyance lots.
MAXIMUM PER ACRE VALUE
An amount that is established by the Department of Planning and Zoning with the advice of the Harford County Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board as the per acre value not to be exceeded in any easement agreement.
MAXIMUM EASEMENT PER ACRE VALUE
The actual per acre price paid to the landowner based on the total valuation number multiplied by the base multiplication easement value.
OWNER'S LOT
A lot of 2 acres or less, designated for the exclusive residential use of the landowner of record at the time of easement sale.
PURCHASE
The acquiring of property, and title thereto or interest therein, in exchange for money, or the acceptance of a donation of property, and title thereto and interest therein, for no consideration.
SALE or SELL
The transfer of property, and title thereto or interest therein, for a sum of money or the donation of property, and title thereto or interest therein, for no consideration.
SEVERE ECONOMIC HARDSHIP
A state of financial peril of a landowner, whether caused by a natural disaster, the disability of the landowner or some other occurrence. Severe economic hardship can be evidenced by bankruptcy proceedings or other documentation.
SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICT
A federal, state and county funded organization in Harford County developed to conserve and protect soil and water quality.
SUBDIVISION
The act of dividing property into smaller portions through the County residential subdivision process as provided for in Section 2.59 of the Subdivision Regulations, as amended.
SURVEY
A legal metes and bounds description of acreage along with a recordable plat of the entire property entering into the easement program, showing all easement encroachments, driveways, streams, buildings, dwellings, fence lines and the demarcation of wood lines, performed by a licensed surveyor in the State of Maryland. It shall include exceptions to any commitment for title insurance unless waived by the Department of Planning and Zoning, and the survey should be in such form and substance so that there is no survey exception to the title commitment or title insurance policy.
TENANT HOUSE
A dwelling unit located on agricultural property that is used either for occupancy by immediate members of the family owning or operating the agricultural use or by employees engaged in agricultural activities on the property.
WOODLAND
A biological community dominated by trees and other woody plants covering a land area of 1 acre or more.
A. 
The County Executive shall appoint an Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board, who is confirmed by the County Council. The Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board shall consist of 5 members, at least 3 of whom shall be owner-operators of farms who earn 50% or more of their income from farming.
B. 
Each member of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board shall be appointed for a 5 year term of office.
C. 
No member shall serve for more than 2 consecutive full terms. Appointment to fill a vacancy shall be for the remainder of the unexpired term.
D. 
The Chairman of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board shall be appointed by the County Executive.
E. 
The Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board shall have the following responsibilities to the County Agricultural Land Preservation and Purchase of Development Rights Program:
(1) 
To advise the County with respect to the establishment of agricultural preservation districts and the purchases of easements by the County.
(2) 
To assist the County in reviewing the status of agricultural preservation districts and easements.
(3) 
To advise the County concerning priorities for agricultural preservation and to assist the County in developing criteria for evaluating agricultural land applying to the Program.
(4) 
To promote the preservation of agricultural land within the County by offering information and assistance to farmers with respect to the establishment of agricultural preservation districts and the purchase of easements.
(5) 
To advise the County in review and approval of various requests as allowed by the conservation easements and districts in such matters as owner/child lots, allowed uses, etc.
(6) 
To work with the Maryland Environmental Trust to promote the Trust in the County and to solicit donations to the Trust of conservation easements on land that meets the Trust's criteria.
[Added by Bill No. 10-23]
A. 
Conditions for establishment. A landowner participating in the Harford County Agricultural Land Preservation and Purchase of Development Rights Program agrees:
(1) 
To maintain the land in agricultural use or in a properly managed state so that it is available for continued agricultural use from the date that the easement is recorded in the land records of Harford County.
(2) 
To not allow any subdivision of the land for residential purposes, other than that outlined in the easement as owner/child lots.
(3) 
To implement and maintain a soil and water conservation plan as prepared by the Soil Conservation District.
(4) 
To establish an easement on the property which creates an encumbrance upon the land and binds future owners, heirs, successors or assigns and which precludes the utilization of the land for nonagriculturally related uses. Any agricultural uses currently permitted would be allowed to continue under this agreement. The easement agreement shall not provide for public access to any privately owned land.
(5) 
That construction of new buildings or structures on the land, other than farm buildings, that did not exist at the time of district or easement establishment is contingent upon the written application and approval by the Department of Planning and Zoning, subject to review by and recommendation of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board.
(6) 
That for those landowner's whose property contains 25 or more acres of contiguous woodlands, the landowner may maintain a forest stewardship plan prepared by a licensed forester.
B. 
Location criteria. The focus of the Program will be on lands agriculturally zoned.
C. 
Size criteria. The County may not purchase an agricultural preservation easement of less than 50 acres from a landowner unless:
(1) 
It is contiguous to an easement that is 50 acres or greater; or
(2) 
The landowners on the adjoining property(s), which are less than 50 acres but total at least 50 acres, apply and accept the County's offer to purchase an easement; or
(3) 
The land is located in a predominately agricultural area and there is a farming operation on the parcel.
D. 
Soil criteria.
(1) 
Properties qualified for the program shall consist of land which is either used primarily for the production of food, fiber or timber production or is of such open space character and productive capacity that continued agricultural production is feasible.
(2) 
Exceptions to the soil criteria noted below include areas of existing, extensive, specialized production, including but not limited to dairying, livestock, poultry, turf, nursery, horse, fruit or berry production as recommended by the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board.
(3) 
Soils criteria for lands equal to or greater than 50 acres. At least 50% of the land area proposed for preservation, less the acreage contained within the 100 year floodplain as delineated on the Flood Hazard Boundary Maps, produced by the Federal Emergency Management Administration and state or federal designated wetlands, shall consist of U.S.D.A Soil Capability Classes I, II or III on cropland and Pasture or Woodland Groups 1 and 2 on woodland areas.
(4) 
Soils criteria for lands less than 50 acres. A minimum of 60% of the land area proposed for preservation shall consist of U.S.D.A. Soil Capability Classes I, II, III or IV on cropland and Pasture and Woodland Groups 1 and 2 on wooded areas.
E. 
Permitted uses. An owner whose land is in the Harford County Agricultural Land Preservation and Purchase of Development Rights Program shall be permitted to:
(1) 
Use the land for any agricultural use as defined herein and as permitted in the Harford County Zoning Code, including those permitted in Section 267.43(F) of the Harford County Zoning Code, as amended.
(2) 
Maintain the land for future agricultural use.
(3) 
Operate at any time machinery used in agricultural production or the primary processing of agricultural products. Such operations shall not be considered a nuisance, either public or private, as a result of changed land uses in and around the preserved property.
(4) 
Employ normal agricultural activities and operations in accordance with good husbandry and agronomic practices.
(5) 
Sell agricultural products as is permitted under the Harford County Code.
F. 
Exclusion of lots under easement.
(1) 
Owner's lot. The landowner of record at the time of easement sale may, at any time after the easement sale, request the exclusion of 2 acres or less for the exclusive residential use of that landowner. A letter must be provided to the Department of Planning and Zoning requesting this exclusion and verifying the owner's intention to live in this dwelling. This request is subject to review and recommendation by the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board. In addition, the building permit and owner/occupancy permit must be in the owner's name. The owner's lot may not be sold or transferred for a period of 5 years from the date of issuance of the use and occupancy permit except in the event of the death or legal incompetence of the owner or if the lot is part of bankruptcy proceedings; or with approval of the Department of Planning and Zoning, subject to review and recommendation of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board.
(2) 
Child's lot. The landowner of record at the time of easement sale may, at any time after the easement sale, request the exclusion of 2 acres or less for the exclusive residential use of the child. A letter must be provided to the Department of Planning and Zoning from both the landowner and the child requesting this exclusion and verifying that it is the intention of the child to live in this dwelling. This request is subject to review and recommendation by the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board. In addition, the building permit and the owner occupancy permit must be in the child's name. The child lot may not be sold or transferred for a period of 5 years from the date of issuance of the use and occupancy permit except in the event of the death or the legal incompetence of the child or if the lot is part of bankruptcy proceedings; or with approval of the Department of Planning and Zoning, subject to review and recommendation of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board.
(3) 
Number of permitted lots. The total number of lot exclusions may not exceed 1 dwelling unit per 25 acres or 4 lots per easement property, whichever is less. Lots shall not exceed 2 acres in size and shall include all County right-of-way requirements. The inclusion of County right-of-way requirements in the lot size calculation may be waived by the Director of Planning for good cause shown, with the review and recommendation of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board. All costs associated with the establishment of the lot shall be paid by the landowner. In addition, any landowner of an easement requesting a lot exclusion shall be required to repay the County for the lot excluded. This repayment shall be equal to the amount paid per acre by the County.
G. 
Tenant houses. The landowner may request in writing a tenant home in accordance with conditions established within Section 267-26(D)(6) of the Harford County Zoning Code, as amended. This request shall be submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning. Prior to a decision by the Department, the request will be subject to the review and recommendation of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board, who will consider the documented need for such a structure. The tenant home may not be subdivided off of the easement property.
H. 
Application to sell development rights.
(1) 
The owner of agricultural land meeting the criteria for participating in this program may, by written application, offer to sell to the County an easement on the entire contiguous acreage of the agricultural land.
(2) 
For each parcel being offered, the applicant shall include a general description of the parcel, including acreage and the current use of the land, and this shall be accompanied by a map or plat for each subject parcel at a scale no smaller than 1 inch equals 600 feet. In addition, a certified copy of the soil conservation plan, made or revised within 10 years of the date of the application, shall be provided. This plan shall list soil conservation and water quality problem areas on the land.
(3) 
All applications to sell easements to the County shall be submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning. The Department, with the advice of the Treasury Department, shall establish specific dates by which applications to sell development rights must be received by the Department of Planning and Zoning. Within 60 calendar days after this deadline, the Department shall forward all applications to sell development rights to the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board for their review.
(4) 
Each application shall be reviewed and ranked by the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board in accordance with the County's Easement Priority Ranking System (EPR). All applications will be ranked first to last with the first application being the application with the highest EPR score. A maximum easement value or maximum development right value will then be determined for each application.
I. 
Easement priority ranking system. (total number of possible points 300)
[Amended by Bill No. 12-45]
Soil Productivity Score (100 PTS. Max.)
LESA Program
=_____/100 PTS.
Farmland Capability (50 PTS. Max.)
(1)
Cropland and pasture
75%-100% cropland and pasture
=_____/35 PTS.
50%-74% cropland and pasture
=_____/25 PTS.
Less than 50% cropland and pasture
=_____/15 PTS.
(2)
Hydric or hydric inclusion soils
Less than 20%
=_____/15 PTS.
20%-40%
=_____/10 PTS.
41%-60%
=_____/5 PTS.
61%-100%
=_____/0 PTS.
Land Use Compatibility (75 PTS. Max.)
(1)
Development factors
(a)
Percentage of ag development rights remaining on property (as of February 8, 1977) (20 PTS. Max.)
40% or less
=_____/5 PTS.
41%-60%
=_____/10 PTS.
61%-80%
=_____/15 PTS.
81%-100%
=_____/20 PTS.
(b)
Number of family conveyances (10 PTS. Max.)
1 to 5
=_____/5 PTS.
6 and above
=_____/10 PTS.
(2)
Consistency with county land use plan (30 PTS. Max.)
(a)
In a designated rural legacy area (within 2 miles)
=_____/10 PTS.
(b)
In an agriculture designation on the land use plan
=_____/5 PTS.
(c)
In a priority perservation area
=_____/30 PTS.
(3)
Farm Size (15 PTS. Max.)
200+ acres
=_____/15 PTS.
100-199 acres
=_____/10 PTS.
50-99 acres
=_____/5 PTS.
Protected Land Contiguous To Site (30 PTS. Max.)
(1)
Site is contiguous to farmland which is protected by recorded conservation easement
=_____/15 PTS.
(2)
Site is contiguous to federal, state or county owned parkland
=_____/10 PTS.
(3)
Land is contiguous to interim protected land (e.g., 5-year AG Preservation District)
=_____/5 PTS.
Existing Soil Conservation Plan Approved by the Soil Conservation
District (10 PTS. Max)
(1)
Meets current MALPF requirements and practices applied
=_____/10 PTS.
(2)
Updated within 10 years and partially applied practices
=_____/5 PTS.
(3)
No current approved plans
=_____/0 PTS.
Ownership (15 PTS. Max.)
(1)
Full-time owner/operator
=_____/15 PTS.
(2)
Land rented by full-time farmer
=_____/10 PTS.
(3)
Part-time owner/operator
=_____/5 PTS.
(4)
Absentee landowner
=_____/0 PTS.
Contribution to Continued Viability of Agricultural Community (10 PTS. Max.)
(1)
Substantial contribution
=_____/10 PTS.
(2)
Moderate contribution
=_____/5 PTS.
(3)
Minimal contribution
=_____/0 PTS.
Special Conditions (10 PTS. Max.)
(1)
Economic hardship
=_____/10 PTS.
(2)
Young farmers
=_____/10 PTS.
(3)
Other (specify)
=_____/10 PTS.
Total Score _____ PTS.
J. 
Value of easement.
(1) 
The actual easement value paid to a landowner shall be based on an overall evaluation of the property using factors such as size, development potential, best management practices and soil productivity and percentage of soil class. The easement value paid shall be either the maximum easement per acre value or the maximum development right value, whichever is lower, and in no case will the easement value exceed the maximum per acre cap. The maximum easement per acre value is determined by the total valuation number multiplied by the base multiplication easement value.
(2) 
The base multiplication easement value, the maximum development right value and the per acre cap shall be reviewed by the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board every 6 months taking into consideration market conditions, funding and demand. Upon the recommendation of the Harford County Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board, the Department of Planning and Zoning shall establish a base multiplication easement value, a maximum per acre value and a maximum per residential development right/confirmed family conveyance value that the County is willing to pay a landowner.
(3) 
Notwithstanding anything contained herein, the applicant, in the discretion of the County and upon review by the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board, may receive a one-time cash incentive if the property subject to the easement is in the "agricultural preservation incentive" area of the County as set forth on the 2017 Agricultural Preservation Incentive Map which shall be kept on file in the Department of Planning and Zoning. This one-time cash incentive shall be calculated pursuant to a formula approved by the Department of Planning and Zoning. This one-time cash incentive shall not affect the points system or ranking of the subject property.
[Added by Bill No. 17-005]
K. 
Valuation worksheet.
Land Size and Potential:
Base
100
Size (farm acreage/ag zoning density) (1% of base for every 10 acres)
+
____
Total # of development rights (including family conveyance)
+
____
(6% of base for every development right and 2% for every family conveyance)
Agricultural Land Quality:
Average soil productivity (LESA score)
+
____
Cropland and pasture soils (soil acreage x weight ?? farm AC.) X 100
Class I soils _____ x 1
+
____
Class II soils _____ x .72
+
____
Class III soils _____ x .50
+
____
Class IV (qualifying) soils _____ x .18
+
____
Woodland group (woodland acreage x weight ?? farm ac.) X 100
Class I woodland _____ x .50
+
____
Class II woodland _____ x .25
+
____
Deduction for hydric and hydric inclusion soils (acreage x weight ?? farm ac.) x 100
Hydric soils _____ x .50
-
____
Hydric inclusion soils _____ x .25 (Hydric and hydric inclusion soils as defined by the National Hydric Soil List)
-
____
Approved and implemented Soil Conservation District plan (10% of base)
+
____
Total Valuation Number
____
Maximum Easement Value:
Total valuation number_____ x base
Multiplication easement value = $_____ per acre
Maximum Development Right Value:
Number of development rights remaining on the property
____
Number of potential family conveyances
____
Total number of potential rights
____
__ Potential rights x development right value of $_____
= $____
Maximum Per Acre Cap
$____
L. 
Offers.
(1) 
After determination of the EPR score and easement value, offers will be made to all qualified applicants. The County shall make offers to applicants a minimum of 2 times a year, subject to the availability of funds and qualified applicants. The applicant with the highest EPR score should receive the first offer, the applicant with the second highest score should receive the second offer and so on until all funds are expended. However, the County has the flexibility to modify this procedure if adequate funding is not available for the next landowner in line. In this case, the County may make an offer to the next highest score whose maximum easement value does not exceed available funding.
(2) 
The Department of Planning and Zoning will send each qualified landowner a commitment letter stating their EPR ranking and the easement value. All applicants must notify the Department of their intention to accept or reject the offer, and they must specify their payment alternative. The applicant's response must be in writing and received by the Department within 15 days of receipt of the commitment letter.
(3) 
Those applicants not receiving an offer shall automatically be considered for the next round of easement sale offers. All offers to purchase development rights from agricultural landowners must be approved by the Harford County Board of Estimates and the County Council. As the Harford County Agricultural Land Preservation and Purchase of Development Rights Program is strictly voluntary, no landowner shall be required to accept any offer made by the County to purchase their development rights nor shall the County be required to purchase the development rights on farms not meeting the County's minimum EPR score of 150 points.
M. 
Payment alternatives.
(1) 
There are 2 payment options available through the Purchase of Development Rights Program. Installment purchase agreements (IPA) allow landowners to receive the total value of their easement over a 10, 20 or 30 year time period as agreed upon by the County and landowner. Landowners may also request a cash payment in which the landowner will receive the total value of the easement at the time of settlement. After a payment option is selected, it cannot be changed and it is contractual with the landowner at the time of settlement.
(2) 
If the landowner requests that the development rights be purchased in a manner other than through the IPA method, the County, after considering past and future IPA obligations and considering whether funds are available, shall offer to pay the landowner in cash for the purchase of development rights. If funds are not available for the cash purchase of development rights, the landowner shall automatically be considered for the next round of easement sale offers.
(3) 
Once a landowner agrees to accept a County offer to purchase his development rights, a contract between the County and the individual seller will be written. This contract will include the total amount of money that the County has agreed to pay the landowner and sets the terms of that agreement.
N. 
Installment purchase agreement (IPA). IPA's include the total amount of money that the County has agreed to pay the landowner and establishes the terms of that agreement, including the fixed interest rate that the landowner will receive as part of the annual payments. The interest rate is determined by the strip treasury rate the day prior to settlement. The installment purchases shall be for 10, 20 or 30 years as agreed upon by the County and landowner, and the landowner will receive a final balloon payment of the principal and all unpaid interest upon the expiration of the installment pay out period. This agreement is exempt from the provisions of Sections 9, 10 and 11 of Article 31 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
O. 
Settlement.
(1) 
Settlement shall be made by the County within 120 days of the date of County Council action. A 60-day extension may be requested in writing by either the landowner or the County in order to verify deed information and/or provide an updated survey or other information needed by the County to complete the easement sale process.
(2) 
Prior to the selection of a mutually agreeable settlement date, the County shall be in receipt of the title and title commitment from the assigned title company, a survey provided by the landowner and all other subordination agreements or other documentation related to obtaining a clear title.
P. 
Easement recordation. Once all necessary documents have been properly signed, a deed of easement, restricting in perpetuity future development on the property, shall be recorded in the Harford County land records along with a recorded plat of the easement property. The form of the deed of easement shall be similar to the deed of easement attached hereto and incorporated herein by reference. All easements shall run concurrent with the land. The County shall pay all reasonable costs at settlement for the following: title report; title insurance; and recordation fees, if applicable.
Q. 
Additions to existing easements. The process for adding land to existing easements shall be the same as for the initial establishment of an easement. The Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board shall establish a minimum size criteria for the addition of land contiguous to an existing easement.
R. 
Agricultural subdivision. A landowner whose property is subject to an easement under this section shall be entitled to subdivide the property into smaller parcels subject to the following conditions:
(1) 
No additional dwellings shall be permitted on parcels created through the subdivision of the property;
(2) 
All subdivided parcels and any remaining parcel shall be at least 25 acres, except that parcels of less than 25 acres may be created if combined with an adjacent parcel or if approved by the Department of Planning and Zoning, with the review and recommendation of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board;
(3) 
No tenant house shall be permitted to be subdivided from the original property, as the property existed at the time the deed of easement was recorded; and
(4) 
The subdivision of the property will not be inconsistent with any soil conservation or water quality plan in existence prior to the subdivision.
S. 
Reports. The County Treasurer shall submit to the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board on a semi-annual basis, a report detailing the revenues received under the transfer tax, the revenues expended for agricultural preservation listed by payment method, and cost incurred to administer the Agricultural Land Preservation Program.
T. 
Tax credit. Landowners may be eligible for a tax credit under Section 123-43.3.1 of the Harford County Code.
[Added by Bill No. 17-005]
The Harford County Agricultural Land Preservation and Purchase of Development Rights Program also allows a landowner the option of establishing an agricultural preservation district. An agricultural preservation district is a minimum 5 year agreement by the landowner not to develop their land. If a landowner applying to establish an agricultural preservation district does not meet the state's minimum size criteria but otherwise qualifies for their program, the landowner may establish an agricultural preservation district through the County program.
A. 
Conditions for establishment. A landowner agrees:
(1) 
To maintain the land in agricultural use from the date that the district is recorded in the land records of Harford County.
(2) 
That the district agreement creates an encumbrance upon the land and binds future owners, heirs, successors or assigns, and which precludes the utilization of the land for non-agriculturally related uses for a minimum of 5 years. Any agricultural uses currently permitted would be allowed to continue under this agreement as permitted by the Harford County Zoning Code.
(3) 
That the construction of buildings or structures on the land other than farm buildings is contingent upon the written application and approval by the Department of Planning and Zoning, subject to review by and recommendation of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board.
B. 
Location criteria. The focus of the program will be on lands agriculturally zoned.
C. 
Size criteria. An agricultural preservation district shall be a minimum of 50 contiguous acres. However, a parcel of less than 50 acres may qualify as a district if:
(1) 
It adjoins a 50 acre parcel which has been approved by the County as an agricultural preservation district; or
(2) 
It has been added to one or more adjoining parcels which together have been approved by the County as agricultural preservation districts; or
(3) 
The land has an agricultural productivity capability higher than the County average as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture.
D. 
Soil criteria.
(1) 
Properties qualified for the program shall consist of land which is either used primarily for the production of food, fiber or timber production or is of such open space character and productive capacity that continued agricultural production is feasible.
(2) 
Exceptions to the soil criteria noted below include areas of existing, extensive, specialized production, including but not limited to dairying, livestock, poultry, fruit or berry production as recommended by the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board.
(3) 
Soils criteria for lands equal to or greater than 50 acres. At least 50% of the land area proposed for preservation, less the acreage contained within the 100 year floodplain as delineated on the Flood Hazard Boundary Maps, produced by the Federal Emergency Management Administration and state or federal designated wetlands, shall consist of U.S.D.A. Soil Capability Classes I, II or III on cropland and Pasture or Woodland Groups 1 and 2 on woodland areas.
(4) 
Soils criteria for lands less than 50 acres. A minimum of 60% of the land area proposed for preservation shall consist of U.S.D.A. Soil Capability Classes I, II, III or IV on cropland and Pasture and Woodland Groups 1 and 2 on wooded areas.
E. 
Permitted uses. An owner whose land is in the Harford County Land Preservation and Purchase of Development Rights Program shall be permitted to:
(1) 
Use the land for any agricultural use as defined herein and as permitted in the Harford County Code, including those permitted in Section 267.43(F) of the Harford County Zoning Code, as amended.
(2) 
Maintain the land for future agricultural use.
(3) 
Operate at any time machinery used in agricultural production or the primary processing of agricultural products. Such operations shall not be considered a nuisance, either public or private, as a result of changed land uses in and around the preserved property.
(4) 
Employ normal agricultural activities and operations in accordance with good husbandry and agronomic practices, as long as the activities and operations do not endanger the health and welfare of the citizens of the County.
(5) 
Sell agricultural products as is permitted under the Harford County Code.
(6) 
Use the land for additional conservation easements and mitigation offsets, such as but not limited to wetlands and afforestation, provided that the use does not impair any agricultural use on the land, that the use is not greater than 10% of the total acreage of the property as the property existed at the time the deed of easement was recorded and that the use is approved by the Soil Conservation District.
F. 
Exclusion of lots under district.
(1) 
Owner's lot. The landowner of record at the time of district establishment may, at any time after the district has been established, request the exclusion of 2 acres or less for the exclusive use of that landowner. A letter must be provided to the Department of Planning and Zoning requesting this exclusion and verifying the owner's intention to live in this dwelling. This request is subject to review and recommendation by the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board. In addition, the building permit and the owner/occupancy permit must be in the owner's name. The owner's lot may not be sold or transferred within 5 years from the date of recording the district except in the event of the death or legal incompetence of the owner or if the lot is part of bankruptcy proceedings; or with approval of the Department of Planning and Zoning, subject to review and recommendation of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board.
(2) 
Child's lot. The landowner of record at the time of district establishment may, at any time after the district has been established, request the exclusion of two acres or less for the exclusive residential use of the child. A letter must be provided to the Department of Planning and Zoning from both the landowner and the child requesting this exclusion and verifying that it is the intention of the child to live in this dwelling. This request is subject to review and recommendation by the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board. In addition, the building permit and the owner occupancy permit must be in the child's name. The child lot may not be sold or transferred within 5 years from the date of recording the district except in the event of the death or legal incompetence of the child or if the lot is part of bankruptcy proceedings; or with approval of the Department of Planning and Zoning, subject to review and recommendation of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board.
(3) 
Number of permitted lots. The total number of lot exclusions may not exceed 1 dwelling unit per 25 acres or 4 lots per district property, whichever is less. Lots shall not exceed 2 acres in size and shall include all County right-of-way requirements. The inclusion of County right-of-way requirements in the lot size calculation may be waived by the Director of Planning for good cause shown, with the review and recommendation of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board. All costs associated with establishment of this lot shall be paid by the landowner, and the district will be amended to identify the lot(s) excluded.
G. 
Tenant houses. The landowner may request in writing a tenant home in accordance with conditions established within Section 267-26(D)(6) of the Harford County Zoning Code, as amended. This request shall be submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning. Prior to a decision by the Department, the request will be subject to the review and recommendation of the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board, who will consider the documented need for such a structure. The tenant home may not be subdivided off of the property while in the district. Nor may it be subdivided if the property is going to proceed to settlement under any preservation program.
H. 
Termination and alteration of districts. The following provisions are applicable only to land in agricultural preservation districts on which an easement is not held by the County or the state.
(1) 
A landowner may terminate his property's inclusion in an agricultural preservation district at any time after 5 years from the establishment of the district. Notice of intention to terminate must be submitted to the County at least 6 months prior to district termination.
(2) 
Severe hardship. If severe economic or personal hardship occurs, the County may, on an individual basis, release the landowner's property from an agricultural preservation district at any time. The landowner shall petition the County, stating succinctly the severe hardship that the landowner is sustaining and providing the County with the following:
(a) 
A recent financial statement which shows the owner's complete assets and liabilities and a statement under the penalty of perjury that the information contained in the financial statement is true and accurate.
(b) 
Other information attesting to the severe hardship that the landowner is sustaining, including by way of example information from the mortgages, lien holders, creditors, attorneys, the internal revenue service and other party interests who are qualified to address the condition of the landowner.
(c) 
To the extent permitted by law, the County shall deny public access to the information the landowner has supplied the County.
(d) 
The question of whether severe economic hardship exists will be decided by the Department of Planning and Zoning with concurrence from the County Attorney and the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board.
(3) 
No development plans may be submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning prior to the formal termination of the district.
(4) 
A landowner terminating a district shall be required to pay back to the County the applied tax credit given to the property while under a district agreement.
All properties in the Harford County Agricultural Land Preservation and Purchase of Development Rights Program will be subject to periodic inspections. Inspections will be conducted to determine if the owner is complying with the terms of the easement. A representative of the Department of Planning and Zoning will conduct the inspection. At least 1 month prior to the inspection, the Department shall give the landowner notice, by mail, of intention to inspect the property, and all inspections will be conducted at reasonable times.
The Department of Planning and Zoning shall be required to conduct a minimum of 2 community outreach meetings per year. The community outreach meeting shall be held in an effort to instruct and encourage participation in County, state and federal land preservation programs.