Agricultural Preservation - Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Agricultural Preservation Easement?
An Agricultural Preservation Easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a governmental agency or nonprofit conservation organization that is legally binding upon the land and future owners in perpetuity. The easement protects the land from future development and limits commercial uses which are not compatible with agriculture.
How would an Agricultural Preservation Easement affect the use of my farm?
Landowners retain all rights of ownership, privacy and uses within the terms of the easement. An easement runs with the property, in perpetuity, and carries certain responsibilities such as maintaining a current soil and water conservation or forestry plan and otherwise upholding the terms of the Deed of Conservation Easement. Land preservation easements limit development on farmland. Development can only occur in accordance with the easement terms such as a tenant house, owner’s lot or children’s lot.
How are properties selected to participate in the programs?
Each program has different criteria. Interested landowners are encouraged to get in touch with the land preservation staff to find out what programs your property qualifies for.
Why should I consider putting a preservation easement on my land?
Landowners who want to protect the rural or scenic character, family or historical heritage, or natural resource and wildlife value of their land may donate or sell conservation easements as a way to protect those values in perpetuity. Easements may also be a part of the estate planning process thus making it easier to pass land to the owners' heirs.
Do I need a Building Permit for an Agricultural Building?
No, Barns, silos, and other agricultural buildings only need a zoning certificate. Agricultural processing buildings such as buildings for wine production need a building permit and a zoning certificate before construction. Buildings such as garages are not considered agricultural buildings therefore they require building permits.
Do Agricultural Buildings require Plumbing or Electrical Permits? Are they subject to inspections?
Yes, Plumbing and electrical installation requires permits and inspections.
Do I Need to Subdivide my Property to Give a Lot to my Son or Daughter?
Yes, You must comply with all of the county and state regulations, such as well and septic regulations before you can give land to a child. The first step is to hire a surveyor to prepare a subdivision plan and have the plan submitted to the Division of Planning and Permitting for approval.
How do I sell a portion of land to my neighbor?
The 1st step is to have a surveyor draw up a plat map to add their property to yours. This is called an addition plat. The surveyor will then submit the plat to the County’s Division of Planning and Permitting for approval.
How many development rights (lots) am I entitled to?
Development rights are determined by zoning regulations, which state that any agriculturally zoned land that existed as of August 18, 1976 is entitled to 3 development rights plus the remainder lot. Depending on the size of the farm, additional rights may be given if the lots are clustered. Cluster rights are determined by the size of the farm. All properties must go through the subdivision regulations set by Frederick County’s Division of Planning and Permitting.
Are mobile homes permitted in the agricultural zone?
Yes, mobile homes are permitted as primary dwellings or to be used as a tenant house.
If I replace a dwelling do I need to pay the impact fee?
You can request a waiver of the impact fee if you are replacing 1 dwelling for an existing dwelling that is being taxed as a dwelling unit.
Is permit required for a new well?
Yes, please contact the Health Department for more information concerning wells.
Is a permit required for a new driveway?
Yes, Please contact the Engineering and Construction Management Department for additional information on driveway permits.
Are there regulations on clearing trees?
Yes, Certain regulations may apply if you are clearing trees. Please contact the Division of Planning and Permitting or more information.
Is there a limit to the number of farm animals I can have?
If you are zoned agricultural, there is no limit to the number of farm animals you may have with the exception of hogs. Swine operations must comply with the Intensive Swine Feeding Operations Part I, Chapter 19 Sections 8.500 to 8.500.16 of the Zoning Ordinance.
Am I allowed to sell agricultural products on my property?
Yes, as long as the agricultural product is grown on the property. Products such as vegetables, fruits and hay can all be sold on the farm.
What about producing and selling jellies, ice cream, wine, etc.?
Producing an agricultural product such as wine from grapes is considered agricultural processing and requires special permitting. Please contact the Division of Planning and Permitting for more information.
What about corn mazes or petting farms?
Yes, these are allowed in agriculturally zoned properties without a permit as long as they meet the requirements of the agricultural enterprise section of the Zoning Ordinance.
Are there building size limitations?
Tenant houses require permits, impact fees, and all other approvals. There are no size limitations on tenant houses. The number of tenant houses you are entitled to depends on the amount of acreage you own.
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