Agricultural preservation, a topic often brought up when examining Frederick County’s planning future, came before the County Council this week.

The council got the latest news on the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) program, which is run by the state and looks to preserve “prime farmland for future food and fiber production by paying farmers to [relinquish] their development rights,” according to the county website.

Anne Bradley, the county’s land preservation administrator, told council members Tuesday the state is limiting each county to 12 applications, and the county could provide up to roughly $1.33 million in matching funds for those applicants.

Council members unanimously approved 12 applications covering 1,993 acres, which were scattered throughout the southern half of the county.

Bradley said the applications now go to the state, which will complete appraisals of the properties and determine how much money to give to each county.

Given state funding limitations, Frederick County anticipates the maximum number of projects that will ultimately be approved is eight.

Councilman Phil Dacey (R) asked Bradley if the county could exceed its $1.33 million allotment if certain projects need to be funded.

It’s possible, according to Bradley.

“The state will come back to us after they figure out how much all of these are going to cost,” Bradley said.

She added that the state’s projected contribution is about $3 million.

Councilman Steve McKay (R) asked why the state was limiting counties to 12 applications, and if that applied to each county statewide. Bradley said given the demand for the program, state officials had to limit everybody to that number.

The applications were widely supported by council members.

Council Vice President Michael Blue (R) said supporting the MALPF program is a “no-brainer.” He noted the demand — only 12 of the 41 applications were approved for fiscal 2020, according to staff reports.

“I think we just have to go with whatever’s available, just do the best we can, select the best properties,” Blue said.

Meetings scheduled for charter review, binding arbitration groups

The charter review commission and binding arbitration work group are underway and will have meetings next week in Winchester Hall.

Charter review commission members are tasked with reviewing the charter and providing recommendations and/or amendments to the council in a final report by Feb. 28, 2020. Their next scheduled meeting is July 10 at 7 p.m. in the third-floor hearing room at Winchester Hall.

The binding arbitration work group, whose main goal is to help council members draft a bill in response to Question D — a ballot issue that passed last fall concerning collective bargaining and other issues to the county’s career firefighters.

Their next meeting is July 11 at 1:30 p.m., also in the third-floor hearing room at Winchester Hall.

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel.

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

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