SCHENECTADY COUNTY -- Schenectady County officials will start taking applications from land owners interested in becoming part of the county’s agricultural district, which provides farmers with incentives to keep their land in agriculture.
The county Legislature has established Dec. 1 to Dec. 30 as the annual application period during which landowners can apply to be in the district, with decisions by the Legislature on whether to add or remove any lands expected in March.
"Schenectady County is committed to our agricultural industry and actively encourages local farmers and other agricultural landowners to request inclusion in the district," said county Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski, D-Rotterdam. "We have a long history of support for our farmers and growers through events like our Fall Foliage Festival and the numerous farmers markets that showcase our locally grown produce. The agriculture district program helps us create a better business environment for local farms and maintain open space in Schenectady County."
Agriculture districts provide a combination of landowner incentives, such as lower property tax assessments and protections against lawsuits, with the goal of preventing the commercial development of working farmland. The Schenectady County Agricultural District comprises 19,673 acres, representing about 13 percent of the county's land.
In March, the county Legislature added eight parcels, totaling 434 acres, to the district. In 2017, it added 211 acres. The process also works the other way, with farm owners able to petition to leave the district. Those who enter the program are asked to make an eight-year commitment to preserve the land.
After the 30-day review period, applications will be reviewed by the county’s Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board. Then, a public hearing will be conducted by the county Legislature before a final vote on whether to include additional parcels in the agricultural district. The application is available at www.SchenectadyCounty.com/agdistrict.
Additional information can be obtained from the county Department of Economic Development and Planning at 518-386-2225, ext. 226.