County Commissioners vote to end Farmland Preservation program

At their first executive committee meeting after the Nov 7 election, county commissioners voted 5-2 to terminate the county’s four-year old farmland preservation ordinance, a decision could be made final Tuesday (Nov 21) when commissioners hold their monthly meeting.

The majority clearly took the 62% vote against a 15-year, one-half mill property tax to fund farmland preservation as a blanket rejection of the program. Commissioner Watkoski said “I think this is a grand opportunity to take the county out of the farmland preservation business.” Fellow commissioner David Shiflett disagreed saying “I think the voters reasonably said no to a tax. I can’t support disbanding the ordinance and board at this time.
Read Farmland program faces ax in the Leelanau Enterprise and Farmland preservation program is voted down in the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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6 replies
  1. Andrew McFarlane
    Andrew McFarlane says:

    Here’s a letter that I WOULD send to the Enterprise had this whole thing not been such a dark of the night, last second endeavor:

    A late addition to the agenda and now Leelanau County is just one vote away from terminating a farmland preservation program that has been labored over for four years by people who understand the value of agriculture to our area and also what can happen if it is not protected. I wish I could say I am surprised, but a county board that is the only one in the state to have chosen to site its county seat outside of a city or village probably can’t be expected to make wise decisions for the future.

    This vote and lack of vision is appalling.

    Reply
  2. jsorbie
    jsorbie says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you Andrew! I simply do not posess the skills to fully articulate my disdain for this boards’ actions and attitudes. I wish that they would have offered some alternative to those in favor of the farm preservation program. It is not clear to me that the vote was as much against public funding of farmland preservation as it was against the board’s otherwise free spending habits. I wonder how the initiative would have faired without being on the ballot with the millage increase.

    Reply
  3. Andrew McFarlane
    Andrew McFarlane says:

    Two writers from the Michigan Land Use Institute pointed out that what the commissioners did is akin to closing a school due to the failure of a single millage. It should also be pointed out that as a result of this, no farm in Leelanau County will be eligible for state farmland dollars. Meaning that although Leelanau taxpayers pay for the program, the farmers can’t avail themselves of the money.

    Reply
  4. JTH
    JTH says:

    Good point Andy.

    And the voters essentially said that when they send their tax dollars to Washington, they don’t want them back. The Congress can send them to Arizona.
    When tax dollars are sent to Lansing, they don’t want them back, send them to Detroit.

    Go figure.

    Remember, when candidates run unopposed, don’t vote for them.
    No sense in encouraging them!

    Reply

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