State grant backs preservation of Ottawa Co. farm

Ottawa County

An undated photo of the Klein Farm in Chester Township, courtesy Ottawa County.

CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The state has granted some $438,750 to protect a family farm in Ottawa County from being sold off and developed.

Of the 13 properties up for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Local Farmland Preservation Program grant, five got it. One is in northeast Ottawa County: the 168-acre Klein Farm in Chester Township, which county officials say has been in the family since the 1860s.

Ottawa County lost 8% of its farmland between 2012 and 2017. The problem, officials have explained, is that many farmers reaching retirement age do not have family members who want to stay in agriculture, so they sold to developers.

The state grant will go to Ottawa County’s Purchase of Development Rights Program, which buys the development rights to land to keep it from being used for something other than farming. Development can also be discouraged by creating permanent agriculture easements, as well as through zoning rules and succession planning.

Applications to the county’s preservation program are being accepted through April 30. More information can be found online.

The county said the Klein Farm will be the fourth it has saved.

**Correction: A previous version of this article stated the county would donate development rights back to land owners after purchase. That was not accurate. The county retains the development rights; land owners retain all other land rights.

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