Meeting Dates for Farmland and Open Space Preservation Board
FOSPB meets at Township Hall, 3792 Pontiac Trail, typically on the 4th Monday of every other month at 7:30 pm, on an as-needed basis.
Tom Bartoshesky, Chair
- Monday, January 22, 2018
- Monday, March 26, 2018
- Tuesday, May 29, 2018*
- Monday, July 23, 2018
- Monday, September 24, 2018
- Monday, November 26, 2018
*Moved for Memorial Day holiday
Ann Arbor Township Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program
Ten-Year Report to Citizens
In 2003, Ann Arbor Township voters overwhelmingly supported a 20-year millage to fund a Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program. With 80% support, voters emphatically stated that certain areas of the township should be kept undeveloped forever. We are pleased to provide the following report on the program’s first ten years, with a look ahead to the second ten.
After the successful vote, the township Board of Trustees appointed a seven-member Farmland and Open Space Preservation Board to implement the program. The Trustees also hired local land preservation consultant Barry Lonik to serve as staff to the Preservation Board. Together everyone worked to educate landowners, attract applications, apply for matching funds and bring land preservation projects to fruition.
The first completed project was in November, 2006 on the Kapp farm, located on the east side of Nixon Rd. between Warren Rd. and Pontiac Trail. The Kapp family farm was acquired in 1931, as is prominently displayed in shingles on their barn. The Kapps ran a dairy operation from 1935 to 1995 and now raise cattle in addition to cash crops.
Since then eight other projects have closed, creating two large blocks of contiguous protected land. The west block, totalling 620 acres, is located south of Joy Rd. (the township’s northern boundary) and includes land on both sides of Whitmore Lake Rd. and US-23. (An additional 30 acres was protected by the local nonprofit Legacy Land Conservancy with funding support from the township before the millage was approved.) The east block, totalling nearly 300 acres, is located south of Pontiac Trail on both sides of Nixon Rd. Coupled with the 153 acre township farm property—acquired by donation after clustered residential developments were approved—the east block totals about 450 acres. The total amount of protected land in the township’s agricultural preservation area (north of the US-23/M-14 freeways) stands at 1,110 acres.
In all of these projects, township funds have been used to purchase the landowner’s ability to divide the property into smaller parcels for residential development. We call this purchasing development rights, or PDR. In exchange for payment, landowners sign a permanent deed restriction called a conservation easement that is recorded at the Washtenaw County Register of Deeds and runs with the property in perpetuity.
The township has been successful in attracting matching funds from a federal grant program as well as the City of Ann Arbor Greenbelt program and Washtenaw County Parks. Landowners have also agreed to sell development rights at less than the value determined by an independent real estate appraiser. So far about $3.2 million of township millage funds have been expended; more than twice that amount has been matched by other sources. About 16% of the protected lands are natural features (woods, wetlands, streams). The administrative cost to operate the program is about 13% of total expenditures, meaning 87% of millage funds have been used for acquisitions.
Four of the nine properties protected by township millage funds have changed ownership since the PDR projects were completed. Two of those were purchased by organic farmers. Green Things Farm is located on the west side of Nixon Rd. between Warren Rd. and the freeway, operated by Nate Lada and Jill Sweetman. Kim Bayer now owns the property located on both sides of Whitmore Lake Rd. and US-23 south of Joy Rd.; she is leasing some of it to Tantre Farm (which has been planting fruits and nuts) while some areas are being planted with native grasses and undergoing wetland restoration.
At the program’s outset, the township set a goal of protecting 2,000 acres in the agricultural preservation area. Ten years in, we are more than halfway there. The Preservation Board is currently developing a brochure for the owners of eligible properties with information on the process and benefits of PDR. With that a new round of outreach to landowners will commence.
The Preservation Board meets every other month on the fourth Monday at 7:30 p.m. The meetings are open to the public except for the discussion about current applications. For more information on the township’s land preservation program, or if you would like to become a member of the Preservation Board, please contact township supervisor Mike Moran at (734) 663-3418 or consultant Barry Lonik at (734) 223-2321.