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Queen Anne’s County Considers Zoning and Land Values

ESLC presents research summary

Queenstown, Maryland December 12, 2008 – Queen Anne’s County Planning Commission is considering a new zoning policy, called Ordinance 08-25 – the Rural Preservation and Development Act, that has raised concerns about the link between downzoning and land values.

To address this question the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), a private, nonprofit land conservation organization, compiled a research synthesis of studies focusing on downzoning and land valuation with citations.

ESLC Executive Director Rob Etgen presented this information to the Queen Anne’s County Planning Commission at their December 11th meeting. According to Etgen, “We work with hundreds of farm families every year and are very sensitive to any impacts of regulations on land values. While we are comfortable that the new Queen Anne’s ordinance will not cause any dramatic decrease in land values, it is important for the decision makers to read the research and draw their own conclusions.” In addition to providing copies of the research to the Planning Commission, ESLC encourages interested landowners to read the research reports which are available through the Conservancy website


www.eslc.org .

Of the eleven studies within this research synthesis, seven found that downzoning did not decrease land values and four found that it did. Of the four that found a loss in value from downzoning, the only one more recent than 1988 was a New Jersey study which was not published nor peer reviewed. Of the seven that found no loss in value from downzoning, five were published and peer reviewed. “Although the research on downzoning and land values is not unanimous, the majority of the research has found no impact on land values from downzoning,” said Etgen.


The Caroline County Planning Commission also provided the Queen Anne’s County Planning Commission their experience on the issue with a letter describing a successful ordinance in Caroline that is very similar to the Queen Anne’s proposal. The letter stated that “the major concern of all involved is the fair market value of farmland due to the regulation change.” After analyzing appraisals from the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation for two years prior and two years after the new Caroline ordinance, they found that farmland values had actually increased after the new ordinance was passed. According to the letter, “When comparing those values to FY05 and FY06, prior to the TDR regulation change, there was an increase in fair market value per acre.”

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