Montgomery County, Maryland Agricultural Reserve
||This article may be too technical for most readers to understand. (October 2009)|
The Montgomery County, Maryland, Agricultural Reserve was created in 1980 by Royce Hanson to preserve farmland and rural space in Montgomery County, Maryland. Some 10,000 people work within the Reserve, which covers about one-quarter of the county's total area. It contributes over $250 million to the County.
In the 1970s, the Montgomery County Council (MCC) noted that working farms were disappearing to new housing at a rate of 1,300 acres (5.3 km2) a year. Many of the upcounty houses were purchased by people who wanted to live on large areas of land and were willing to drive long distances to down-county areas.
So the MCC set up the Agricultural and Rural Open Space Master Plan (AROS), which seeks to preserve farms, productive soils, and a way of life. It seeks to preserve farmland through:
- Control of public costs and prevention of urban sprawl
- Adherence to County growth management systems
- Preservation of regional food supplies
- Energy conservation
- Protection of the environment
- Maintenance of open space
- Preservation of rural life styles
The Rural Density Transfer (RDT)
Used to protect the 90,000 acres (360 km2) of farmland, the RDT applies over most of the Reserve. It allows one house to be built for every 25 acres (101,000 m2) that a farmer or property owner had.
Transferable Development Rights (TDRs)
When property owners complained about that restriction, the MCC compensated the property owners for the loss of developability. They invented the TDR or Transferable Development Right. The county council assigned one TDR for every five acres someone owned who was downzoned. A TDR could be sold to someone who wanted to build houses in lower Montgomery County. By buying TDR's the home builder, down-county, could build more houses. The thought was that the down-county has more roads, schools, and public water and sewer, and can handle the additional houses.
According to an advocacy group, the reserve provides the following benefits:
- There are more than 90,000 acres (360 km2) of farmland to enjoy in upper Montgomery County
- Provides pick-your-own produce
- Serves as a "green lung" for the DC area, cooling and cleaning the air
- Employs over 10,000 people
- Contributes to $250 million to the economy
- Offers recreational activities
- Habitats for animals
- Historical Sites
- civil war sites
- Underground Railroad
- 18th and 19th century homes, barns, mills, ans schools 
The Techway, a proposed second crossing of the Potomac River, would bisect the reserve to connect Montgomery County with the Dulles Airport area. There is also the potential of increased development, which could use up a large portion of farmland and bring more traffic into the Agricultural Reserve.
- www.sugarloafcitizens.org/Royce Hanson.htm
- Plowing New Groun-MNCPPC
- Preservation of Agricultural and Rural Open Space