April 17, 2003
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Miami Township trustees—
Farms up for easement funds
The Tecumseh Land Trust is applying to the State of Ohio at the end of the month for help in purchasing easements on two farms in Miami Township.
TLT representative Joe Staggs asked the Township trustees at their meeting April 7, to contribute more than $67,000, or 5 percent of the easement cost for both the 285-acre Spencer farm near Wilberforce-Clifton Road and the 107 acres of the Fulton farm on East Enon Road that are in Miami Township.
The farms will compete with other properties around Ohio for a portion of funds available this year from Ohio’s Agricultural Easement Program. The program’s $3.25 million must be used with matching local funds, TLT executive director Krista Magaw said after the meeting.
The two farms are considered competitive candidates because they both have healthy soil, and they each connect with or are near other properties with easements, two important things the State considers when granting matching funds, she said.
The trustees will consider the land trust’s request at their next meeting, April 21.
Clustering parcels of farmland together is the most efficient and cost effective way to keep most municipal services in one area, Magaw said. It is also the most logical format for maintaining a balance between urban and rural expanses, she said.
“One thing that stands out for me is that we don’t seek to acquire land like conservancies or parks because if we were to purchase land we would have to manage it,” Magaw said.
With an easement, the land remains privately owned and continues to be taxed, with land use restricted loosely to agriculture or woodlands. The land also remains affordable for farmers who wish to keep it productive, Magaw said.
The Township currently has $103,000 in its Farmland Preservation Fund. The last time the trustees contributed funds to buy an easement was in 1999 when Whitehall Farm was sold at auction, to which they contributed $13,700.
Trustee President Chris Mucher said after the meeting that he was inclined to defer the land trust to steward township preservation funds. He also said that the 5 percent contribution requested from the Township seemed reasonable.
Trustee Lamar Spracklen said he was concerned that the Spencer farm was noncongruent with other properties with easements and that the parcel was “five miles outside” Yellow Springs. He also questioned the accuracy of the total easement cost, a value calculated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture department representative Melanie Wilt based on the market value, the agricultural use value and a host of other factors accounting for availability of matching funds.
The Spencer farm, located half a mile south of Clifton Road between Wilberforce-Clifton Road and State Route 72, has an easement value of almost $1.05 million, or roughly $3,680 per acre. According to the application, if the Township contributed 5 percent of the total cost, or $52,000, and the landowner contributed 25 percent, by accepting a $262,000 recoupment reduction, then the State would cover the rest of the cost, providing the easement application is accepted.
Tecumseh Land Trust used the same formula for the Fulton farm, which abuts East Enon Road and the Clark County border. The full easement value of the property is calculated at $298,600, or $2,790 per acre. If the Township contributes 5 percent, or $14,900, and the landowner agrees to a 25 percent recoupment reduction, or $74,600, the State would pay the remaining cost.
The acceptance of the grant applications, due on April 30, is contingent on approval from the Township. Awards will be announced in July.
The TLT also hopes to partner with the Village next year to purchase agricultural conservation easements in the upper Jacoby Creek area north of Whitehall Farm. The land trust and the Village would apply for matching funds from the State’s Clean Ohio Conservation Fund.
The trustees gave their approval of the land trust’s plan to approach the Village.
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In other township business:
• The trustees agreed to accept a bid of nearly $146,660 from Lifestar Rescue of Van Wert to manufacture an air truck for the fire department. Lifestar’s bid was the only one the Township received.
• The trustees submitted a request to the Greene County engineer’s collective road repair bidding to repave a portion of Snypp Road. The cost for the project is not to exceed this year’s road repair budget of $18,000.
• Fire Chief Colin Altman reported that the fire department purchased some new equipment at a 35 percent savings off regular prices: a carbon dioxide monitor for $4,200, which Altman said is becoming more essential for the rescue squad; a new fire simulation software system for $450; and several coded key storage boxes, which attach to Township vehicles, for $400 each.

—Lauren Heaton