Farmland Preservation Bill Moves On

Wednesday Delegate Matt Lohr, R-Rockingham County, announced HJ195 successfully passed the House Rules Committee and will move to the House floor later this week. The bill addresses preserving farmland.

Lohr stated, “As a lifelong farmer, I am very passionate about preserving and protecting our farmland across the Commonwealth. I proposed this study to examine the entire Transfer of Development Rights program and look for ways to modify the concepts to make it more appealing to localities. A successful TDR program has tremendous benefits to a locality. Smart growth, preserving open space, and providing compensation to farmers are all pluses. It also does not come as a cost to the taxpayers in a locality, which is a benefit over the traditional PDR program.”

HJ195 establishes a nine-member joint subcommittee to study TDR. It has the support of the Office of Farmland Preservation, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Farm Bureau, and the Virginia Agribusiness Council.

Areas that will be studied include:

- Establishing a bank of credits that can be sold in advance of a developer needing to purchase them for a rezoning.

- Looking at incentives for farmers to purchase additional farmland with the money they receive from selling development credits.

- Examine what specific benefits developers would gain by participating in the TDR program.

- Explore the idea of setting up a statewide system where the development credits would be placed in a state managed program. It would take the General Assembly to make any changes or modifications to land that would want to come out of the program.

Lohr said, “Funding for traditional farmland preservation programs will certainly be cut this year with the looming budget crisis, but TDR programs can accomplish the same result without using existing taxpayer dollars. I am excited about the possibilities of this study and look forward to working towards a meaningful solution.”


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