Legal Documents

Related to MALPF

More than most land preservation programs, the language in the deed of easement and the policies of the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program are largely determined by statutory and regulatory language.  Because the statute and regulations change over time and because the provisions applying to your property may be unique, to establish what restrictions apply to your district or easement property, you should first consult your deed of easement.  While the Foundation strives to keep its regulations consistent with the law, when the statutory language in the Code of the Public Laws of Maryland conflicts with the regulatory language in COMAR, the statutory language applies.



Statute


Code of the Public Laws of Maryland.  Agriculture Article. Title 2.  Department of Agriculture.  Subtitle 5.  Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation. (Update through October 1, 2010.)
Code of the Public Laws of Maryland.  State Finance and Procurement Article. Title 5.  State Planning.  Subtitle 5.  Governmental Coordination, Cooperation, and Assistance in Planning.  § 5-408.  Certification of County Agricultural Land Preservation Programs. (Update through October 1, 2010.)

The Code of the Public Laws of Maryland is the compilation of legislation that composes Maryland’s statutory code.  The text provided here from Title 2 of the Agriculture Article is the statutory language most directly applicable to the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.  There is additional language elsewhere in the Code concerning issues such as MALPF’s sources of funding that will be added at a later date. Please note that the applicable selection from Title 2 of the Agriculture Article, as provided here, is a 22 page document. The selection from Title 5 of the State Finance and Procurement Article, is a 3 page document. These documents are provided for reference purposes only; the most recent version of legislation can be found at http://www.mlis.state.md.us.



Regulations


Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR).  Title 15.  Department of Agriculture.  Subtitle 15.  Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.  This subtitle contains most of the regulations that govern MALPF.  (Update through October 1, 2010.)
Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR).  Title 34.  Department of Planning.  Subtitle 03.  Land Use.  Chapter 03.  Certification of County Agricultural Land Preservation Programs.  (Update through October 1, 2010.)

COMAR is the compilation of regulations that interprets and supplements the Code of the Public Laws of Maryland.  The regulations in Title 15 provided here are those that most directly apply to the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program.  There may be some additional regulatory language addressing the Program more indirectly.  When identified, those regulations will be added to those posted here.  Please note that these documents are provided for reference purposes only; only the printed version of COMAR is legally binding.   The applicable selection from Title 15 is a 47 page document; the applicable selection from Title 34 is a 9 page document. COMAR is in the public domain, and the sections cited here (and any recent changes) can be found at:  http://www.dsd.state.md.us/comar/.



Deeds of Easement


Current Standard Deed of Easement (Adobe Acrobat/pdf format) (revision: 06/16/ 2011).  This deed of easement was revised to use for the FY 2011/12 easement offer cycle for easements that do not include federal matching funds.

This deed of easement is the legal agreement between the landowner and the Foundation that restricts the future uses of the landowner's property.  The landowner is selling development rights and imposing certain other restrictions on the property to benefit of the State of Maryland to preserve the property for agricultural use.  The deed of easement is binding on all future owners of the property.  Potential participants in the Program should review this document carefully with legal counsel – it represents what is being purchased by the Foundation.  Because the terms of the Foundation’s deed of easement are largely determined by statutory and regulatory language, the easement cannot be tailored to fit each landowner's individual situation.

Someone seeking information on the restrictions applying to a specific property should consult that property’s deed of easement recorded among the County’s public land records.  Easement language has evolved over time in response to statutory and regulatory changes, changes in policies adopted by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and the Foundation’s experience administering the Program.  Further, some easements include additional restrictions at the request of the landowner, county, or Board of Trustees, for example, eliminating the termination clause to meet IRS standards for the deduction of any charitable element of the easement transaction or eliminating additional development rights.  Finally, the Foundation draws on multiple funding sources, some of whom require specific easement language that differs from the standard deed of easement.

Please note that all deeds of easement acquired by an option contract approved by the Board of Public Works after September 30, 2004, are explicitly perpetual, as required by House Bill 777 passed during the 2004 legislative session.

>Current Federal Deed of Easement (Adobe Acrobat/pdf format) (version approved by the Natural Resource Conservation Service; revision: 03/16/2009) – for offers including Federal Funds incorporating Federal easement language required by the Cooperative Agreement for Fiscal Years 2005-2006.  This deed of easement has been revised for MALPF's FY 2009/10 easement offer cycle to incorporate changes required in the FYs 2005-6 Cooperative Agreements, the grants most recently matched against State and local funds in the 2009/10 easement acquisition round.

This deed of easement is the legal agreement between the landowner and the Foundation that restricts the future uses of the landowner's property when the offer includes funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP).  The Foundation’s participation in the Federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program requires that easements purchased with federal funds include additional or alternative easement language fulfilling the conditions of its cooperative agreement with the federal government.  The FRPP is selective in the properties it funds; if your property receives federal funding, its soils are generally considered highly productive and meet other federal criteria.

Federal language to be included may include either the contingent material interest that the Federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program has in the easement by virtue of the investment of its funds (such as inspection and enforcement rights) or the role of the federal government as a co-holder of the easement. Additional information on the federal easement language will be included with option contracts that are part of the offer to purchase an easement including federal matching funds.

The language in Federally-funded easements has evolved over time.  If you are seeking information on the Federally-funded restrictions applying to a specific property, you should consult that property’s deed of easement recorded among the County’s public land records.

>Final District Agreement (Adobe Acrobat/pdf format) (revision approved by the Board of Trustees in September, 2003; revision, December 2003).

When a landowner petitioned to create an agricultural preservation district, this is the agreement to restrict development on the property signed by the Foundation and the landowner and recorded in the county land records.  As of July 1, 2007, district petitions are no longer required as a precondition for applying to sell an easement to the Foundation unless required by the county in which the property is located.  As of July 1, 2008, district petitions are no longer accepted by MALPF. All MALPF districts will be terminated as of June 30, 2012 except those that run concurrently with a MALPF easement. Otherwise, MALPF District Agreements in effect as of July 1, 2007, will continue until the commitment of the Agreement is fulfilled and the landowner terminates the agreement, or until June 30, 2012, whichever occurs first. If a district is required by the county as part of the application process, the district will be established by the landowner at the county level.


>These are public documents and are provided for general information purposes only.  If you have a question about a specific law, regulation, or provision of the district agreement, option contract, or deed of easement, please consult legal counsel.



>>MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Martin O'Malley, Governor
Anthony G. Brown, Lt. Governor
Earl F. Hance, Secretary
Mary Ellen Setting, Deputy Secretary
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Last revision:  October 15, 2010.

>http://www.malpf.info/laws.html

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