Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Voice of TAME: Sugarloaf Citizens' Association Protecting the Ag Reserve from M-83




I am presenting this letter as my testimony on behalf of the Sugarloaf Citizens Association, of which I am a Director and immediate Past President. We are a not-for-profit volunteer organization with a 40-year history of work to preserve the agricultural tradition and environmental health of upper Montgomery County and to protect the viability of its Agricultural Reserve. During our long history, we have repeatedly and vociferously opposed the imposition of any major new roads in or through the Reserve—whether the OuterBeltway or any other highway proposal

We are in opposition to any incursion of M83 into the Reserve.

Planning staff recommendations recognize that the Reserve was established to ensure the continuing economic viability of farming through the preservation of a large, contiguous area permanently dedicated to farmland. The proposed master plan alignment alternatives have the potential to impact nearly 400 acres of Rural Density Transfer-zoned land and would surely create pressure for re-zoning out of agriculture and into redevelopment of properties along these alternatives.

Any fragmentation of the Reserve is a threat to its long term viability. Our farms provide not only food security and scenic open space; here, I reference the County’s own reports that the, “…Reserve is an important environmental resource for future farm enterprises. A strong agricultural heritage provides a diverse business community and a strong economic base. Combining these strengths with the commitment for farmland preservation makes Montgomery County an attractive place to live and work."

illustration & copyright - Tina Brown
"The County's diverse agricultural industry's 561 farmland 350 horticultural enterprises produce more than $243 million in economic contribution from agricultural products and operations. The majority of Montgomery County farms are family-run operations, many reaching back several generations, which employ more than 10,000 residents. Of the County's 561 farms, 43% are farmed as a primary occupation.” 

Let me reiterate: 10,000 jobs and $243 million from the Agricultural Reserve; no M83 incursion, no fragmentation.

Thank you.

Sugarloaf Citizens’ Association
Anne Sturm, Director and Past President

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