Archived News Release: July 7, 2023 - The Ann Arbor Greenbelt's 20th anniversary also marks the program's first-ever affordable farmland purchasing opportunity via its buy-protect-sell initiative. Farmers are invited to submit a proposal to buy protected farmland that is being sold at a reduced price thanks to this new initiative. “This is a space where land preservation can offer new triple bottom-line sustainability outcomes," said Land Acquisition Supervisor Rosie Pahl Donaldson. “There is an abundance of farmland seekers in the Ann Arbor area, with soaring property prices presenting a common barrier to land ownership for farmers that have been leasing farmland for years and for ones that are just getting started. If you are a farmer interested in purchasing land in the greater Ann Arbor area, especially for the first time, this opportunity may be right for you."
In 2003, residents of Ann Arbor approved the Greenbelt Millage, which authorized a 30-year, 0.5 mil tax levy to provide funds for the preservation and protection of open space, natural habitats, agricultural lands. To date, the Greenbelt program has successfully helped to preserve 7,600+ acres of land. A majority of that has been achieved by acquiring conservation easements on private land that permanently restrict the property's use, safeguarding its use for agricultural, recreational or conservation purposes. These protected lands stay in private ownership and on the tax rolls while contributing to the agricultural economy, conserving regional biodiversity and ensuring local open space.
“At the Greenbelt's inception, it was envisioned that the program could permanently protect between 7,000–10,000 acres surrounding the city of Ann Arbor," according to Ann Arbor Parks & Recreation Deputy Manager Remy Long. “We're pleased to announce that 20 years into the Greenbelt's 30-year timeframe, the program has surpassed its floor and is heading to the ceiling, while also bringing innovative solutions to longstanding program objectives," Long said. “While we stay on track to reach the upper heights of our target acreage by 2033, we've launched the buy-protect-sell initiative to address issues of farmland affordability and access in our community."
Under the new buy-protect-sell initiative, the first opportunity is a farm located on Nollar Road in Northfield Township. The 54-acre farm is being sold in two parts: the 20-acre North Parcel and the 34-acre South Parcel. Applicants can submit proposals to purchase either parcel, or both. The sale packet is available to view at (PDF). Submissions are due by Monday, Sept. 11. The property will be available for viewing prior to the proposal submission deadline during two open houses on Saturday, July 22, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. and Thursday, July 27, 4–7 p.m. During this time, attendees will have the opportunity to see the property, structures and woodlands, and discuss the proposal/sale process with City of Ann Arbor staff. Registration is strongly recommended, though not required. Sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/open-house-nollar-road-tickets-668309500707.
“We always knew it would take time and perseverance to realize the vision of the Greenbelt program. The Greenbelt Advisory Commission and City Council are thrilled to see the program's strides and innovations over the past two decades," said City Councilmember Travis Radina. “The Greenbelt continues to deliver on its original promise to preserve regional open space and farmland while pushing the envelope of what we originally thought the program was capable of through its buy-protect-sell work, which offers equitable and affordable farmland purchasing opportunities in a community where they are sorely needed. To date, the program has leveraged $45 million in external funding to achieve its goals, and we will continue to strategically secure partnerships and funding to carry the Greenbelt's vision forward for another decade."
To learn more about the Greenbelt program, including information about the application process, visit https://www.a2gov.org/greenbelt/Pages/greenbelthome.aspx.
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