Dayton Rural Preservation Society

Supporting the preservation of rural farmland in HoCo, Md

Support Letter:  MD Sierra Club, Howard County chapter

April 28, 2014


The Howard County Sierra Club supports the Dayton Rural Preservation Society in their campaign to establish zoning regulations that preserve agricultural land for agriculture and prevent industrial operations and other inappropriate use of agricultural land. 


The Sierra Club is opposed to industrial use of farmland. The national Sierra Club's policies are quoted below.

Land Use: Two trends are of intense concern: the loss of productive agricultural land to urban, industrial, and mining development and the conversion of marginal lands and underdeveloped areas to agricultural use.

  1. In general, land should not be converted from those agricultural uses which protect long-term resource productivity.
  2. In areas not now in agricultural use, land-use classifications and policies should be developed and implemented before conversion is permitted.
  3. Those seeking to convert land to other uses should bear the burden of proving that the proposed new use is more important to current and future public welfare and that there is no other feasible location for the proposed use.
  4. Comprehensive land-use planning is necessary to ensure a balance of lands for all purposes. It is important that there be wide public and professional participation in the planning processand that farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural professionals participate in land-use decisions.
  5. Zoning and land-division policy and practice should be restructured to serve as a substantive control over conversion of agricultural lands.
  6. Tax policy, to the extent that it encourages conversion of agricultural land, must be reformed. Examples include adoption of differential assessment and tax deferral techniques, restructuring of estate and inheritance taxes to promote continuity of family farming, and elimination of tax shelters.
  7. The concept that "highest and best use" of land and water resources is that which can pay the highest immediate price must be modified to reflect the long-term goal of preserving agricultural productivity and natural resources.
  8. Soil erosion control should be focused on prevention of the problem at its source. Special attention should be given to restoration of formerly productive eroded lands.
  9. In general, smaller, more diverse production units such as family farms, to the degree that they result in increased environmental responsibility, are preferable to the extensive monoculture characteristics of larger units.


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