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Augusta County’s future planned

Column by Charles Curry

After nearly two years of intensive work and the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, the county’s future is planned – the Augusta County Comprehensive Plan has been completed and approved. The Augusta County Farm Bureau Board of Directors was actively involved in this process, working diligently to communicate and preserve Augusta County’s farming economy.

Farm Bureau involvement

Initiatives on behalf of Farm Bureau members included but were not limited to the following:

1. Partnered with the Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District to hiring a professional planner to monitor the planning process and keep our leadership abreast of issues related to farming.

2. Sponsored a forum in cooperation with the Augusta Community Partnership and reported on the contents of the draft plan prior to the final public input sessions.

3. Met with county staff, members of the Steering Committee, and members of the Planning Commission to communicate farming concerns on important issues in the draft plan.

4. Submitted written input on the draft plan.

5. Publicized public input and workshop meetings, and

6. Attended and presented information at the workshop and public meetings.

The Farm Bureau supported

Based on the resolutions approved by the membership at the 2006 Annual Meeting, the Farm Bureau Board supported the following planning initiatives:

1. Providing leadership and structure to promote the Agriculture Industry.

2. Preservation of farmland.

3. Guiding growth to urbanizing areas.

4. Programs that enhance generational transfer of agricultural land.

5. Allowing more diverse agriculture uses and product marketing.

6. Incentives for agricultural and forestal districts.

7. Reciprocal setbacks between agricultural and non-agricultural uses.

8. Purchasing development rights.

9. Transferring development rights.

10. Dedicated funding sources for preserving agricultural production land.

11. Promotion of conservation easements.

12. Designating Agricultural Enterprise Zones.

13. Complying with the comprehensive plan when pursuing industrial development.

Encouraging Results

The new plan sets forth excellent goals and objectives to guide the county over the next 20 years. A majority of the recommendations of the Agricultural Task Force were included. The plan is friendly to our important and large agricultural industry and therefore friendly to our local economy and quality of life. The central goal of our citizens was to retain the rural character of the county by keeping farm and forestry strong and protecting our natural resources. The text of the plan addressed this primary goal very well.

Discouraging results

Prior to approving the new Comprehensive Plan, the Board of Supervisors eliminated the following changes that the Board had worked so hard to have included and which the Steering Committee and Planning Commission supported:

1. Assurance that eminent domain authority would not be used to take farmland for economic development.

2. A statement that was in the ’94 version of the plan that designated small- to medium-sized industrial development, compatible with our agriculture industry.

3. Target dates for implementing the new plan and monitoring the progress to assure that the desired results are realized.

4. Notice of the dangers involved in creating residential developments below the county’s flood control dams.

Now what!

The farming community in partnership with our urban neighbors must continue to keep informed and to work aggressively to promote the preservation of our agriculture industry and the conservation of farmland.

The new plan “talks the talk” but falls short of “walking the walk” required to accomplish the goals stated therein.

Charles Curry was the chair of the Augusta County Agricultural Task Force. He is a candidate for the North River District seat on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors. 

The views expressed by column writers do not necessarily reflect those of management of The Augusta Free Press.

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