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Keyword: land preservation

Permanent Protection to Maintain a Viable, Local Base of Food and Fiber Production for the Current and Future Citizens of Baltimore County.

Baltimore County is now accepting applications for both the FY21 Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) and the Baltimore County Land Preservation Programs.

MALPF is the State funded easement program which protects 24,719 acres of farmland in Baltimore County alone. Created by the General Assembly in 1977, MALPF purchases agricultural preservation easements that restrict development on prime farmland and woodland in perpetuity. The County program which operates similarly, was created in 1994 to preserve working family farms in the county.

MALPF has permanently preserved 318,215 acres of agricultural land across Maryland, representing a public investment of more than $752 million. With county and other state preservation programs, more than 963,700 acres of farmland and resource land are protected by easements in Maryland. This is the greatest ratio of farmland preserved to total landmass of any state. Baltimore County is also a national leader in land preservation and has consistently ranked in the top 10 counties for land preservation.

With 67,000 acres protected through various public and private programs, Baltimore County is over 80 percent of way to the goal of permanently protecting 80,000 acre of land in the County’s rural area. The purpose of the goal is to provide permanent protection of enough land to be able to maintain a viable local base of food and fiber production for the current and future citizens of Baltimore County.

To be eligible to be considered for either program, the land must be rural, meet minimum soil criteria and be at least 50 acres in size or adjacent to an already preserved land. Funding is limited so selection will be based upon the quality of the farm land, development potential, discounted asking price, and other factors.

Baltimore County staff is ready to assist landowners with their applications and encourages landowners considering applying to contact them early to begin the process as the application is quite extensive. For landowners who have applied in prior years, a new application must be submitted each application cycle to be considered for the sale of an agricultural easement.

The application period is now open and the deadline is April 17, 2020. View more information and application forms at our Land Preservation page.

Interested landowners are encouraged to contact Joe Wiley or Megan Benjamin at (410) 887-3480 before completing the application.


Action Will Preserve 23 Acres of Developable Land and Protect Local Waterways

Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler and 6th District Councilwoman Cathy Bevins announced the County’s plans to preserve a significant parcel of environmentally sensitive land in Middle River to prevent development, thereby protecting water quality for local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.

The County plans to acquire 23 acres, located on the southwest corner of Bengie’s Road and Bourque Avenue, which is less than a mile from Dark Head Creek and Middle River, and is immediately adjacent to another 28 acres of open space owned by the State of Maryland. Program Open Space acquisition funds will be applied to reimburse the full $100,000 purchase price.

“Preserving rural lands is one of the most effective ways to protect the drinking water supplies for 2.6 million people in the Baltimore region, as well as the water quality of our streams and rivers that flow to the Chesapeake," Mohler said..

"I am always looking for sites around the district for Project Open Space,” said Bevins. “I am thankful for the administration for purchasing this land. This is the latest in a long list of ways we have worked to improve the environment here in Middle River. From dredging the Bird River to preserving open space, I have worked hard to protect and improve the environment.” 

The property is zoned for medium-density residential development and has a recorded 20-lot subdivision. By purchasing this property from Windlass Woods, LLC., the County is guaranteeing its ability to serve as a filter for stormwater, protecting the water quality of Middle River and the Chesapeake Bay. It will be preserved as a forested refuge for wildlife, while offering scenic views in a growing area of the County, near the Baltimore Crossroads mixed-use development.


County is Nationally Recognized for Effective Growth Management Zoning

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz highlighted the County’s 50 years of success in preserving rural and agricultural lands by directing growth to areas inside the Urban Rural Demarcation Line (URDL), which has held up virtually intact since it was established by the Planning Board in 1967. The URDL, one of the first of its kind in the nation, channels new development in a way that concentrates commercial and residential growth into the existing built environment to protect open space, water quality, agricultural land, scenic views and the natural environment.

“By preserving the integrity of the URDL over the past five decades, we have enhanced the quality of life for everyone in Baltimore County, rather than allowing unchecked suburban sprawl to overtake our rural areas while leaving older communities behind,” Kamenetz said. “We know that preserving forests and rural land is one of the most effective ways to protect our waterways and the drinking water supplies for 1.8 million people in our region.”

A History of Thoughtful Planning and Environmental Preservation

Baltimore County has long been recognized nationally and internationally for its comprehensive land use planning, zoning and preservation programs that preserve open space by guiding development into designated areas within the URDL, resulting in a minimum of costly suburban sprawl and the preservation of environmentally and economically valuable farmland and rural open space.

The URDL benefits existing communities by investing County resources in a cost-effective manner and guiding capital investment into the urban parts of the County and siting costly public amenities like schools, roads, public water and sewer mostly inside the URDL.

In 1965, just prior to the establishment of the URDL, the Valleys Planning Council developed the Plan for the Valleys. That was a precursor to the County’s first Comprehensive Plan in 1975, which identified growth areas in Windlass (now better known as the greater White Marsh area), Mays Chapel, Liberty and Owings Mills. Also in 1975, the County created rural land conservation zoning, designed to protect agriculture and watersheds while allowing some limited growth in rural areas.

“The best outcomes come from collaboration like what took place at the time of the Plan for the Valleys, and we’re still reaping the benefits of that really high-quality planning back when most of the state and country were not thinking about long-range land use planning,” said Teresa Moore, Valleys Planning Council Executive Director.

The URDL set the stage for stabilizing the County’s rural lands and there has been only minimal change to the original demarcation line, even with the open Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP) every four years. 90 percent of Baltimore County’s population still lives inside the URDL, and two-thirds of its land remains rural. Agriculture is still the largest business land use and Baltimore County is the leading equine county in the state of Maryland. 

“The County Council is ultimately responsible for land use decisions, and my colleagues and I take very seriously our responsibility to be stewards of the land, balancing the need for homes and businesses with critical environmental protections,” said County Council Chair Tom Quirk.

Baltimore County’s first Maryland Environmental Trust land preservation was purchased in 1974, and today, the County is ranked in the top ten jurisdictions nationally in agricultural land preservation with preserved lands and parkland forming a green network that stretches from the Chesapeake Bay to the Piedmont border with Pennsylvania. 


 
 
Revised October 16, 2020               
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