(June 7, 2019) Worcester County Commissioner Ted Elder, who has long expressed his disdain for aspects of the Rural Legacy Easement program, was the sole dissenting vote Tuesday when the commissioners approved the sale of another easement.
“The public’s not allowed on the land they’re paying [about] $700,000 for, so I just wanted to make that point,” Elder said.
The roughly 914-acre property is located west of Snow Hill, on the eastern side of Whitesburg Road and the south side of Corner House Road, according to Robert Mitchell, director of environmental programs for Worcester County.
“Again this is a state program that’s not going anywhere and the counties are using it, so if we don’t use these funds and implement the program that we’ve implemented locally and preserve these areas, the money goes to another county,” Mitchell said.
Commissioner Bud Church agreed.
“So they’re [the state is] giving us the opportunity to preserve this land as opposed to it being preserved in Wicomico [County] or Somerset [County] or Allegheny County,” Church said.
The rural legacy easement program compensates property owners for permanent conservation easements” on their land, according to Mitchell, who also clarified the owner’s give up their rights to develop on the land.
He added the funds for the initiative already had been set aside in the Dividing Creek Rural Legacy Funds during the fiscal years 2018 and 2019 budgets.
Mitchell said the land is used mostly for agricultural purposes, but he added in a memorandum that “the multiple properties have the potential minor subdivision rights for 25 to 28 lots.”
Mitchell said the property owner, E.S. Adkins, of Snow Hill, would receive $775 per acre.
“The negotiated price for this easement is lower than any per-acre payment in the history of the Rural Legacy Program in the history of Worcester County,” Mitchell said in a memorandum.