WASHINGTON C.H., Ohio — A 254-acre working grain farm in Fayette County has been permanently protected by an agricultural easement barring future development. An agricultural easement is a voluntary and legally-binding restriction placed on a farm. The easement limits the use of the land to predominantly agricultural activity. The land remains under private ownership and management and stays on the tax rolls under Current Agricultural Use Valuation. The farmland can be sold or passed along as a gift to others at any time, but the restriction prohibiting non-agricultural development stays with the land.
The Kenneth & Emma Spahr Sr Revocable Living Trust Farm, located on Pleasant View Road in Jefferson Township, is now permanently preserved for agricultural use under an easement held by the Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. This corn and soybean farm was preserved under the state’s Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program, a statewide, farmland-protection initiative administered by ODA using money from the Clean Ohio Fund. Landowners must apply for Clean Ohio funds through “local sponsors.” Once these local sponsors are certified, they have the ability to submit applications on a landowner’s behalf to ODA for consideration.
“This farm has been owned by the Spahr family for many years,” said farm owner Kenneth Spahr. “Three generations currently work the farm and I wanted to see that legacy continue into the future.”
Chet Murphy, Director of Fayette SWCD, said his organization worked with the Spahr family and ODA beginning early in 2015 to preserve the farm.
“This is the first farm in Fayette County that has been preserved under this program, but I anticipate more to be added,” Murphy said. “We have an offer pending on another farm from the 2016 round of funding and are currently evaluating several applications for 2017. The agricultural easement’s value is determined by using a points-based appraisal method. This method uses the county auditor’s CAUV to establish a base value modified by the auditor’s three-year appraisal and takes into consideration the farm’s specific farmland preservation attributes.”
“The family felt strongly that this farm must be protected in perpetuity to preserve not only the history of Jefferson Township, but also the agricultural heritage of Fayette County,” Murphy said. “It’s always so rewarding to help protect someone’s family land but it’s especially gratifying when it’s a farm that has such dedicated owners like the Spahr family.”
Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District was founded in 1947 as a political subdivision of the State of Ohio. It is governed by a locally elected board of five supervisors. Its mission is to address local natural resource concerns through technical assistance and education. For more information about Fayette SWCD programs in general or LAEPP in particular, call 740-636-0279.
— Fayette SWCD