“I’d love to see Ottawa County remain vibrant in their agricultural endeavors,” said Matt Fenske, a former Tallmadge Township trustee who was recently elected to the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners.
Fenske recently spoke to the Grand Haven Township Board about the program.
The county program would compensate owners of agricultural property in return for placing a permanent conservation easement on the land. The easement is a deed restriction that limits future non-agricultural development.
“The importance of agriculture is really significant,” Fenske said. “It’s the No. 2 moneymaking endeavor for our state.”
According to Fenske, agriculture brought in about $91 billion to Michigan's economy this year.
“Once we use it up, once we pave it over, it’s gone,” he said.
Grand Haven Township Supervisor Bill Cargo said 18 percent of the land in the township is used for agriculture. But only 2.3 percent of property tax revenue comes from farmland, he added.
Luke Meerman, a Polkton Township farmer, attended the Grand Haven Township presentation and said the development rights purchasing program is important. He said officials can both preserve open space and allow for development.
“What we’re finding is that a diverse community is a healthy community,” Meerman said. “This is a way to have some of both.”
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.