The Virginia State Conservation Easement program began as an excellent way to "save the farm" of struggling land-rich, cash-poor farmers. I strongly believe in landowner/farmer decisions to place a conservation easement on his property.
The Shenandoah County Conservation Easement Authority promotes a conservation easement "tool" to Purchase Development Rights (PDRs).
The purchase of the Pleasantdale farm leaves the authority short of local funding. Federal, state and local matches are requirements for PDRs. The conservation authority will continue to promote the purchase of wealthy farms and affluent landowners in our county.
The long-range land-grabbing tactics of PDRs are designed to suck the life out of our local taxpayers. Our dumpsters are closed on Thursdays, our utility rates continue to rise and our first payment to the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail comes due in 2016. The feds cut services under sequester, the state passed a mammoth tax increase for transportation, and we paid Pleasantdale farm for PDRs. It is wrong on all levels.
Our county comprehensive plan and conservation easement support the rural character of Shenandoah County. Funding PDRs takes needed funds from our core services and could possibly contribute to a tax increase.
I will continue to say no and vote no to PDRs.
Marsha Shruntz, member, Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors