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Supervisors to learn about planning tool

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ANN MARIE AMES
May 17, 2008
— Rock County officials on Tuesday will learn about a tool for preserving farmland and planning for development.

At 7 p.m. in the jury selection room at the Rock County Courthouse, county board supervisors and members of the Rock County Towns Association will learn about purchase of development rights programs from public and private groups already using the programs.


County and town supervisors will hear from Jefferson County planning officials, officials from the town of Dunn in Dane County and a private Jefferson county group that has been working with Rock County farmers to preserve farmland, said UW Extension agriculture agent Randy Thompson.


In a purchase of development rights program, landowners sell the right to develop the land to another person or group, town of La Prairie Supervisor John Lader said.


Lader is part of a group that’s been researching PDR programs for about a year and a half.


Landowners could sell the development rights to a developer, a conservation group, or any number of organizations, Lader said.


The land could still be farmed, or it could be developed, depending on the location, he said.


One of the groups talking to supervisors will be the Jefferson County Land Trust Network, a private group that works to protect open spaces around the state. Clinton Township farmer Gary Sommers, who worked with the network in January to permanently prevent development on 600 acres of his property, will also talk about the program.


The network is currently working on similar plans for two 150-acre farms in northern Rock County, Chairwoman Martine Koeppel said.


Town of Dunn Land Use Manager Renee Lauber will also speak to supervisors. The town has had a PDR program since 1996 and has protected nearly 3,000 acres from development, Lauber said.


The program has been a good tool in writing boundary agreements with neighboring municipalities, Lauber said.


The discussion about a PDR program is in the very early stages, Lader said.


“We’re not proposing this be done in Rock County at this time,” Lader said. “This is the first step in the process to see that it would be feasible and to see if there would be any support for this.”



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