County was the fastest growing county in Maryland in the 1970's.
The county's farmland protection movement began at the urging of a
county councilwomen to form a citizens' task force. The group's
efforts were backed by a variety of interests, including farmers,
local clubs, urban and rural residents. The state also showed
its support by giving the task force a grant for $10,000.
The first recommendation of the task force was to create a local PACE
program to supplement the state program. By the late 1980's
the county program had purchased easements on 7700 acres. In
1989, they revised the local program and adopted an installment purchase
plan to buy easements. It allowed the county to pay landowners
for easements in installments, with interest. The payments are
made over a 30 year period, with the remaining amount of the purchase
price paid in a lump sum at the end of term. The landowners
had the advantage of interest payments being exempt from income taxes
and the deferral of capital gain until they receive the principal
amount. The county benefited since the installment payments
gave more money in the short term for the purchase of easements.
The county funded the interest payment with proceeds from real estate
taxes. By 1996 the county protected 17,000 acres and nearly
40% of their county farmland.