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Preserving local farmland

Alex Doty • Sep 19, 2016 at 12:00 PM

POLKTON TWP. — The Ottawa County Agricultural Preservation Board has closed on the purchase of its first permanently preserved farm property.

The Hehl Farm — a 34.9-acre hog and cattle farm in Polkton Township — is the first in the county to be permanently preserved by the Ottawa County Purchase of Development Rights Program.

“This is a first for Ottawa County,” said Cliff Meeuwsen, chairman of the Agricultural Preservation Board. “The need for farmland that provides food for the world continues to grow while we continue to lose farmland to development at a rapid pace. This program preserves farmland and green space for future generations, and we should remember that without timely rains and farmland, we could not exist.”

The program is voluntary and preserves farmland through the purchase and donation of development rights for actively farmed property. The program’s mission is to preserve the scenic, environmental and economic benefits that farms and farmland provide to local communities.

Landowners who participate receive compensation for the development potential of the land, yet they still own their land and retain the majority of the rights associated with it. Development is restricted by a permanent deed restriction, barring any future residential and commercial development.

The program is funded entirely through private donations, contributions from area foundations, and state and federal grants.

To commemorate the first farmland preservation, the Agricultural Preservation Board will host a sign unveiling celebration at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, at Hehl Farm, 14468 88th Ave., Coopersville. The unveiling will feature guest speaker Carl Bednarski, president of the Michigan Farm Bureau, and a picnic will take place afterward.

Attendees are asked to RSVP by Thursday, Sept. 22, by calling 616-738-4852, emailing plan@miottawa.org or visiting miOttawa.org.

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