Two Saratoga County towns will receive state grants of as much as $25,000 to develop local agricultural and farmland protection plans, state Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine announced Friday.
The money awarded to the towns of Ballston and Moreau were part of $610,781 in grants given to 12 towns and eight counties. The state will pay 75 percent of the cost of having the plan developed, up to a maximum of $25,000.
“As more people and businesses are drawn to the open spaces that rural life offers, many small towns and villages are grappling with difficult decisions regarding land use and preservation,” Aubertine said in an announcement made in Albany. “These grants will encourage towns and counties to construct a well-thought-out plan to protect viable and productive farmland.”
Ballston and Moreau will become the third and fourth towns in Saratoga County to develop agricultural protection plans with state funding. Both still have substantial areas of livestock farming, despite residential growth in recent decades.
The towns of Malta and Charlton received money in earlier rounds of funding and have developed plans to preserve agriculture even as the towns grow.
The money will allow the towns to hire planning consultants to help write the plans, said Saratoga County Planner Jaime O’Neill, and the plans could then help those towns get more grant money for agricultural protection projects.
“If you have one, that gets your application ranked higher,” she said.
The plans will identify the location of farmland to be protected, the value of that land to the local economy, the value of that land as open space, and the consequences of possible conversion to other uses.
Ballston is currently considering a proposal to pay up to $600,000 for 272 acres of the Cappiello farm on Route 50 north of Burnt Hills to preserve it as open space, parkland and a working farm. A public hearing will be held on the proposal at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Town Hall.