In November 2003, the residents of Ann Arbor voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Open Space and Parkland Preservation Millage, commonly referred to as the Greenbelt Millage. The Greenbelt Millage is a 30-year, 0.5 mil tax levy. A portion of the money is used to purchase new City parkland and a portion is used to protect agricultural and open space land outside of the City, within the Greenbelt District. Click here for a map of the Greenbelt District (PDF). The purpose of the Greenbelt Program is to protect working farmland and natural areas, as well as, protecting land along the Huron River.
As of February 2013, the Greenbelt has expended funds to protect 37 working farms through the purchase of development rights and 3 open space parks, in collaboration with Washtenaw Natural Area Preservation Program. Collectively, these properties comprise over 4,200 acres protected using Greenbelt funds.
The matching funds for the purchase of development rights on agricultural land have been in large part due to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranchland Protection Program. Since 2005, the City has been awarded over $6 million in grants to offset the City’s costs for purchase of development rights on 16 farms.
In addition to the City’s success at securing the grant dollars, there are a number of similar locally funded programs, that the City has partnered with in order to stretch the Ann Arbor tax-payers’ dollars. See section on Greenbelt Partners for additional information.