February 21, 2012
Building a community that includes viable and sustainable agriculture takes time and resources, and the development of an agriculture mitigation policy and program is a vital step in this process. We commend the City of Morgan Hill for releasing a draft agriculture plan and policy and for placing value on agriculture as a vital part of your economy, landscapes and community. And we thank you for allowing Greenbelt Alliance to participate in the conversation and provide comments on the draft plan.
We commend Morgan Hill for the many points in the plan that will strengthen and support the working landscapes around your City. Your policy provision requiring developers to find the mitigation property, negotiate the purchase of an easement from a willing seller, and pay all acquisition costs is important for successful market transactions that value agriculture. Additionally, the requirement that developers fund deposits for easement monitoring and defense is essential to long-term mitigation and monitoring efforts, and ultimately, the success of the policy. We commend you for avoiding in-lieu fees, which can allow developers to avoid mitigation efforts, and for explicitly stating that agricultural easements are perpetual, thereby eliminating the possibility of “term easements.” As well, your goal to expand your transfer of development program to include agricultural conservation credits may potentially provide an additional mechanism to help the city balance development and preservation goals.
To keep reading comment letter: Comments on MH Ag Mit. Policy (PDF)