Jun 28, 2013

Springfield latest locality to seek permanent protection

While Wisconsin isn’t currently funding its Purchase of Conservation Easements program, counties and towns across the state are still striving to permanently protect their best farmland. And federal programs to provide part of the cost of easements continue. Here’s a summary:

Springfield TDR

In late 2012, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and officials from the Town of Springfield announced an agreement that will help keep families farming and protect thousands of acres in the town for decades to come.

The town is moving forward with implementation of a “transfer of development rights” program, that will help focus where any future development occurs and preserve the town’s rich agricultural heritage. 

TDR is a voluntary program that allows landowners to sell development rights from their land (known as the "sending area") to a developer or other interested party. The purchaser is able to use these rights to develop land at a designated location (known as the "receiving area") at a higher density than would otherwise be allowed by local zoning. The seller of development rights retains ownership of the land, but the right to develop the land is restricted with an easement.

“Farming is a multi-billion dollar a year part of our economy and a rich part of the heritage of the town of Springfield,” Parisi said.  “This agreement ensures that as our county continues to grow, there will be family farms proudly working the lands and cows grazing the countryside just a short drive from the west side of Madison.” Parisi noted the Town of Springfield is between two of the county’s faster growing areas – the village of Waunakee and city and town of Middleton.

“This agreement is an opportunity for the town of Springfield to work with Dane County and neighboring municipalities to preserve, protect and promote the agricultural nature of the town of Springfield,” said Springfield Town Chair Don Hoffman.

“The Springfield Town Board is looking forward to working with Dane County and Joe Parisi with mutual respect on land issues and development rights of our Town residents in the future,” said Jim Pulvermacher, Springfield Town Supervisor.  “The town of Springfield has worked long and hard to come up with a program to allow willing farmers to use some of their land value without having to sell their land for development. Many of our farms are multi-generational and want to be able to pass on their land to the next generation and still gain some land value to retire,” added Town Supervisor Jim Pulvermacher.

“Springfield’s leadership will be felt across the county and perhaps the rest of the state,” said Jim Welsh Executive Director of the Natural Heritage Land Trust.  “There isn’t nearly enough government funding available to protect our high-quality farmland through our traditional program of purchasing development rights – the town’s market-based approach will help farmers permanently protect their farm land and give them an infusion of capital to invest in our agricultural economy.  It will be a great model for other towns to consider.”

Implementing the new program will require a modification to the Town of Springfield’s Comprehensive Plan, which will be reviewed by the Town Board and eventually the Dane County Board.

The town of Troy in St. Croix County also has a TDR program.

More information: Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858.