Public Forum to Examine Medina County’s (OH) Proposed First-in-the-State Farmland Preservation Measure

MEDINA, OH — A public forum will be held on Tuesday, February 15th at 7:00 p.m. at the Medina County Administration Building to examine Medina County’s proposed farmland preservation measure, which will appear on the ballot this March 7th. This measure will be the first farmland preservation effort by any county in Ohio.

“Medina County is losing 40 acres per week to residential development,” explains Medina County Auditor Michael Kovack. “We need to act today to preserve our rural heritage for tomorrow.”

Located south of Cleveland and west of Akron, Medina County is the most rapidly developing county in Ohio. Since 1970, Medina County’s population has nearly doubled to 155,000. At the current rate of development, Medina County will lose more than 20,000 acres of rural land over the next ten years.

“The program would be strictly voluntary,” explains Christopher Knopf, Director of the Ohio Office of the Trust for Public Land, which is assisting in the campaign in support of the measure. “The county would purchase easements only from willing sellers. The land would stay in private ownership, but could never be developed with homes or commercial buildings.”

The farmland preservation measure would be funded by a 1/4 cent sales tax on goods sold in the county, which amounts to 25 cents for every $100 in goods sold. Food and prescription drugs would be exempt from the tax. An annual public audit would be performed to ensure that funds were spent properly.

“The sales tax will actually keep property taxes lower in Medina County because the cost of services for the new homes that are coming into the county exceeds the tax revenue that they generate,” says Christopher Knopf of the Trust for Public Land.

Christopher Knopf will be speaking at the forum tonight. The Trust for Public Land is a national, nonprofit land conservation organization that gained widespread public attention last year by acquiring the Richfield Coliseum, demolishing the vacant 20,000-seat arena, and transferring the property to the Cuyahoga Valley National Area. Nationwide, the Trust for Public Land has helped conserve more than a million acres valued at nearly $2 billion.

Also speaking at the forum will be Jill Bukovac from the American Farmland Trust and Dick Struthers, a Pennsylvania farmer who enrolled his farm in a program similar to the one being considered by Medina County. Jeffery Holland from the Medina Land Conservancy will moderate the forum.

To get to the forum from Cleveland, take I-71 south to the Route 18 exit. Go west on Route 18 into the City of Medina. When you can no longer continue on Route 18, turn right onto North Jefferson Street. Go one block north to the stop sign. Turn left onto East Liberty Street and then make a right into the Medina County Administration Building’s parking lot. Go through the back door of the Medina County Administration Building and follow the signs to the Choral Room. The address of the Medina County Administration Building is 144 North Broadway Street.