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Local News

The Barry County Board of Commissioners discussion on amendments to the Agriculture Preservation Board ordinance and establishing an Open Spaces Ordinance, both dealing with the buying of development rights from property owners, was well underway Tuesday when Commissioner Ben Geiger asked to send both proposals to a night commission meeting to give the public a chance to learn about the changes, weigh in with their opinions and ask questions.

(For more information of the ordinances see related story).

 

“It’s a worthy cause, but I remember the Cabinet Building (now the Tyden Center). We needed more time to hear about it,” Geiger said.

Commissioners Vivian Conner and David Jackson supported a meeting since they had reservations and wanted to know more.

Commissioner Dan Parker was not opposed to a meeting, but insisted they set the date for the meeting very soon to avoid, “kicking the can down the road.”

 

The meeting, not a public hearing, “call it a town hall meeting,” Geiger said, is set for Thursday, March 28 at 7 p.m. at the Tyden Center.

 

Stacy Byers, on the staff of the Kent County Agricultural Preservation Board and the Agriculture and Open Space Preservation Board in Ingham County, was with the chairman of the Barry County Ag Promotion Board, Paul Wing to explain the changes in the ordinance.

 

The preservation of farmland stalled when the state did not allocate funding for the programs; the state now has some money available through grants on Oct. 1 Wing said. The ag promotion board will be “taking steps to access some of it to preserve some farm land here in Barry County,” he said.

 

Funding was a concern for Conner and Jackson. “You’re talking about the county buying and holding property; we’re not a real estate company,” Jackson said. Also, he speculated the taxpayers might be asked for another millage. “We need more support and understanding of it. Without public input, it will come back to bite us; a meeting would be prudent,” he said.

 

“I see issues,” Conner said. “We’re looking at two large financial commitments with the jail and the COA…purchasing rights, it puts the county government inside what property owners do with their property forever, and it is forever.”

 

Byers agreed it was logical to have a public hearing on the complex issue with many variables. “It will answer all the questions and concerns. It’s a good practice that leads to making good decisions.”

 

 

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