Fayette Council Doubles Down on Farmland Preservation Funds

Jun 11, 2013

Credit Lexington Herald-Leader file photo

A fund designed to protect rural property in Fayette County has been doubled.  The Lexington City Council today voted to double down on the Purchase of Development Rights Program.

For over a dozen years, the agricultural preservation program has paid farmers to keep developers off their land.   In a vote, the council agreed to pump two-million dollars into the program…twice the amount of money requested by Lexington’s mayor.  Vice Mayor Linda Gorton sees the funding as economic development.

“It is absolutely no different from the incentives we give all the businesses that come here within the urban service boundary,” said Gorton.

Given matching funds from the federal government, Lexington would have four-million dollars for the purchase of development rights.  However, such congressional funding could someday disappear…so council member Harry Clarke says the council needs to ramp up its preservation efforts now.

“We are afraid simply that the federal budget is gonna be suffering and these kind of funds may not be available in the future, but again that’s our assumption,” said Clarke.

One of the council members expressing concern about the amount of money going into the preservation program is Council member George Meyers. Meyers has heard from taxpayers who believe it shouldn’t be a priority.

“No matter how lean our budget got.  No matter how lean times got, we always had money for PDR.  We haven’t always had money for these other things and people are saying when is it gonna be our turn,” said Meyers.

Since its inception, over 26-thousand acres and more than 250-farms in Fayette County have been immunized against development.  That’s just over half of the community’s overall, 50-thousand acre goal.