Voluntary Ag District Program Advances
The Voluntary Agricultural District (VAD) Advisory Board moved closer to the application stage at a meeting earlier this month.
The board adopted an application design with addition of the Moore County VAD logo and a special designation for voluntary ag districts. The board also decided to attach a $25 application fee to cover the cost of a sign to be erected on the land contained within the district.
Plans call for applications to be available for distribution to interested agricultural land owners at the board's next meeting.
Glenn Bradley, VAD board chairman, said the county goal is 20 percent participation by eligible land owners.
Although the program is a zero-expense operation, the board has no funds to cover the purchase of signs and other expenses of the program. Some of the cost is being borne by the Soil and Water Conservation District and other agencies serving agricultural interests and planning needs.
Art Williams made the motion to add the $25 fee, and Terry Bryant suggested the inclusion of the VAD sign logo on the application form.
Board members discussed strategies for publicizing the program and the need to inform farmland owners of VAD benefits.
The Moore County Board of Commissioners adopted the Voluntary Agriculture District program as an ordinance last year.
Made possible through Farm-land Protection legislation, a VAD is land used for agricultural purposes and set aside solely for that use. Such a designation provides protections to farmland owners and to people interested in buying land in the area.
Among the benefits is notification to prospective developers that land in the area is used for agricultural purposes, and parties buying land in the area are warned that they will be subject to noise, farm traffic and smells associated with agriculture.
However, participation is voluntary, and a property owner may withdraw from the agreement at any time simply by submitting a written notice to the VAD board.
Eligible are land owners who participate in the county's farm present-use value taxation program or meet minimum acreage specifications: five acres for horticultural use, 10 acres for general agriculture and 20 acres for forestry. The property must have a conservation plan certified by the Natural Resources Conserva-tion Service or the N.C. Forestry Service.
Completed applications will be turned in to the conservation office, which will certify that the application covers a bona fide farm. The application goes next to the planning department and the tax office and back to the VAD board for final approval.
Several county agencies will be involved in the process, but the land owner will not be required to make all that foot work, according to Alice Caviness, education administrator of the Moore County conservation office. The foot work will be carried out by county personnel.
Once the agreement is signed, the property owner will be responsible for picking up the sign and posting it on the property.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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