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State buying land to deter urban crawl

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Jerry Tedrow will get $167,000 for 117 acres of his farm near Delta, but he's sure his land will stay farmland forever.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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DELTA, Ohio - Jerry Tedrow doesn't want to see any changes in the future - at least not on his farm.

Although most homeowners don't worry about what will happen to their land 100 years down the road, Mr. Tedrow, 55, always has wanted to know that his 117 acres of farmland near Delta will stay agricultural forever.

Like many other residents in rural communities, Mr. Tedrow says "development" and "sprawl" like they are dirty words. His property offers productive farm ground, but he said he has no need to build on the land.

"I don't want any factories or houses on it," he said. "I hate seeing farms dissected the way they are these days."

So Mr. Tedrow and his wife, Cynthia, decided to sell to the Ohio Department of Agriculture their rights to develop on the land.

The $167,000 payment to the Tedrows from the agriculture department's office of farmland preservation is only 40 percent of the fair market value of the land, but Mr. Tedrow said he is not in this business to make money. He said he is just pleased that the deed restriction will let him keep ownership of his farm, while ensuring that it will remain agricultural land for perpetuity.

Five farms in Fulton County - including the Tedrow property- and a farm in Seneca County near Tiffin are in line across northwest Ohio to receive a total of $765,000 from Ohio taxpayers in exchange for deed restrictions prohibiting development on the land for perpetuity.

Together, the six farm owners will receive about 25 percent of the $3.1 million that the Ohio Department of Agriculture is spending this year to purchase development rights through the Clean Ohio Fund.

All have agreed to sell their development rights through the Black Swamp Conservancy, which is the Perrysburg group that has promised to watch their properties, guaranteeing that it will not allow buildings to be constructed on the land, Rob Krain, environmental consultant for the agency, said.

In addition to the Tedrows, the other Fulton County owners and their farms are David and Janet Hines, 75 acres, Pike Township; Roger and Dawn Lane, 51 acres, Swan Creek Township; James and Connie Schlatter, 80 acres, York Township, and John and Betty Trowbridge, 72 acres, York Township.

The 245-acre Seneca County farm that is using the deed restriction is owned by John and Diane Ewald in Hopewell and Liberty townships near Tiffin.

But not every farm owner who wants to preserve land can do so successfully through the state. "You've got to have a certain kind of ground, a certain kind of farm," Mr. Tedrow said. "There's a lot of tests you have to pass first."

Mr. Tedrow said the farm he lives on now, which has been in his family for more than 60 years, would not be eligible for the conservancy because it is too close to town.

The land being preserved is a farm he bought 20 years ago and is interrupted by only one house. Now, Mr. Tedrow is keeping it that way.

The preservation program, known as the Agricultural Easement Purchase Program, provides funding each year for farmland owners to sell the development rights on their land through a legal document called an agricultural easement. Because the program is a two-year process, these six farms will be placed under easement in 2008.

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