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Council Considering Amendments to Purchase of Development Rights Ordinance

Fayette County is defined by the balance between our vibrant city and productive Bluegrass farmland. To manage our critical rural assets, the Rural Land Management Plan (RLMP) was adopted in 1999. The RLMP articulated the importance and unique value of our rural lands and set forth a plan to preserve, protect, and promote our agricultural economy and Bluegrass landscape.

The cornerstone of the RLMP is the Purchase of Development Rights Program (PDR) created in 2000. The architects of the PDR program were a diverse group of stakeholders who showed tremendous leadership and foresight in crafting the program. Our program is a national model.

Recognizing the centrality of agriculture to our economic development and identity, the purpose of the PDR program is to “preserve a critical mass of land for agricultural uses” in a concentrated manner “that would maximize its benefit to the agricultural industry of Fayette County.” As the RLMP notes, agriculture is an industry like any other, “with the ‘factory’ being the land itself.”

The goal of the PDR program is to preserve 50,000 acres of prime agricultural land for agricultural use. To date, 261 farms are permanently protected, totaling nearly 30,000 acres.

View PDR Map

The Rural Land Management Board and a committee of the Council recently reviewed the PDR Ordinance. The Board and Council committee have recommended several amendments, most of which are non-substantive. The recommended amendments are as follows:

    • Delete definition of “development right,” which is outdated and confusing (recommended by Board).
    • Clarify that minimum acreage requirement for participation in the program is 20 acres (recommended by Board).
    • Clean up outdated names of organizations who have a seat on the Board (recommended by Board).
    • Prohibit a former Board member from applying to the PDR program within one year of serving on the Board (recommended by Board).
    • Remove the option for an applicant to be paid over time. This change addresses the concern of binding future budgets (recommended by Board).
    • Eliminate option for an applicant to obtain a counter appraisal, which is prohibited by the federal matching program (recommended by Board).
    • Increase number of members on the Board from 13 to 16, with 2 being voting members and 1 being a non-voting ex officio member (recommended by Council committee).
    • The 2 new voting members will be selected from a list of names submitted by councilmembers (recommended by Council committee).
    • The 1 new non-voting member will be a councilmember (recommended by Council committee).

Our prime agricultural land is a finite resource that must be properly managed and preserved. Our PDR program is a national model, and we must remain firmly committed to reaching the 50,000 acre goal.

Fayette Alliance urged the Board and Council committee to keep the goals of the program firmly in mind when considering any proposed amendments. Given the success of the program, any amendment should be justified upon the basis of furthering the program’s intent. The proposed amendments have been placed in the Council Planning and Public Safety Committee for further review. Much is at stake, and we will continue to monitor this issue closely.