Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What's Chatham County Doing?

Chatham County addresses rural character through a section in its Land Conservation and Development Plan. This plan identifies four major principles to protect the rural landscape: 1) Support farming and forestry in predominantly agricultural and silvicultural areas; 2) Encourage rurally compatible residential development in rural areas; 3) Protect important natural areas and resource lands; and 4) Preserve scenic and historic landscapes. These principles recommend such actions as:
  • Establishing an official county agricultural advisory board;
  • Establishing a Farms for the Future program, which will have components including market studies and marketing assistance to promote agricultural economic development in the county and technical assistance on farm infrastructure financing;
  • Creating a Land Link program to connect beginning farmers with experienced ones, and advocacy for organic and specialty farming in the county;
  • Developing qualitative standards such as design guidelines to take into account specific site characteristics when reviewing individual development proposals;
  • Conducting an inventory of scenic and historic landscapes; and
  • Educating landowners about the potential tax benefits of protecting scenic and historic resources.
Additionally, the County has a Farmland Preservation Plan, including a Voluntary Agricultural District Program. In 2011, Chatham County completed a Comprehensive Conservation Plan, which is a detailed document that addresses long-range development planning and the preservation of natural resources as a way to ensure the prosperity and health of Chatham County. Finally, through an active 4-H program, the County reaches out to young people to become involved in agriculture-related projects and programming.

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