Vergennes Township became a participant in Kent County’s Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) farmland preservation program in 2003. The purpose of this program is to create a long-term environment for agriculture by permanently preserving prime and unique farmland. Agriculture is important to Michigan’s economy as it is our largest industry and 1 in 4 Michigan jobs are connected to the food system. To date, 928 acres have been preserved in Kent County. This includes the Tim Howard farm and Steve and Cindy Koning farm both in Vergennes Township.
Each year, program staff sends out postcards to all farmland owners notifying them of the application cycle. From March 1 – April 30, interested landowners voluntarily apply. Applications can be found at www.accesskent.com/pdr or can be mailed upon request. Each application is scored and prioritized according to the scoring system also posted online. The township board must approve each application every year. High scoring applications are then appraised to determine a fair market value for the development rights. In 2010, development rights values ranged between $1,000 per acre up to $2,400 per acre.
Vergennes Township has supported farmland preservation by reviewing applications, adding an area for farmland preservation on the future land use map of the master plan, and contributing $500 toward the preservation of township farms.
For more information on farmland preservation, please visit www.accesskent.com/pdr or contact Kendra Wills, staff person to the Kent County Agriculture Preservation Board at 616-336-2028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.