Photo Courtesy Mark Clowney, Senior Planner, Adams County Office of Planning & Development

This column was originally published in the Gettysburg Times, March 12, 2020.

Quality of life is consistently one of the top benefits people mention in relation to living, working or playing in Adams County. Throughout 2020 we’re focused on telling stories of #AdamsCoAdvantages and this is a big one.

With that in mind, today we want to shine a spotlight on a loan customer who illustrates Adams County’s quality of life—while adding to our collective quality of life as well!

Back in 2012, we helped Kelly and Mark Shannon purchase a 150-acre Biglerville farm by coordinating a $200,000 low-interest loan through the state. The Shannons have supplied grocery stores and farmers’ markets with their vegetables and fruit over the years. Additionally, Mark runs a successful crop consulting business.

In 2018, the Shannons applied for Adams County’s Agricultural Land Preservation Program, requesting that 100 acres of their farmland be preserved.

“This farm ranked 1st out of 67 applications in the 2018 application cycle,” says Ellen Dayhoff, administrator of the county’s program. “Ninety-six percent of the soils are in classes I-IV, with over 50% being Classes I and II. In addition, this farm is adding to a cluster of over 1700 acres of preserved land within 2 miles of this farm.”

The Shannon farm was approved for preservation by the state this past fall! The Alliance’s role, as mortgage lien holder, was subordination of that mortgage in order to permit the ag conservation easement.

“Agriculture is one of our top industries, so it’s vital that we support this industry with loans. But going a step further, it’s also important that we preserve farmland and natural resources because both of these actions directly impact the quality of life enjoyed by every Adams County resident,” said Kaycee Kemper, Alliance Vice President. “Preserving rich farmland supports some of the county’s best agricultural small businesses, plus it preserves the beautiful Adams County vistas we all love.”

And 2020 is a banner year because the county’s Ag Land Preservation Program is celebrating its 30th year! To date, the program has permanently preserved 22,590 acres on 186 Adams County farms, including the Shannon farm.

The evaluation process begins by determining the value of the easement based on a comparable sales approach appraisal. The appraisal provides three values: fair market value of the farm, agricultural value of the farm, and the value of the easement or development rights.

“Prior to going to settlement for an easement, there must be clear title on the farm and the easement must be first in line behind the fee simple deed,” says Dayhoff. “In order to accomplish this all institutions with loans tied to the deed must subordinate their loans. That isn’t always an easy task. The Alliance worked with us on the Shannon farm to garner that subordination. They have always been supportive of our program and I have no doubt when we have a similar situation they would do anything in their power to make the deal happen.”

Thank you Ellen for your kind words. Partnerships are everything to us at the Alliance—and we treasure all of the resources that allow us to play a role in boosting #AdamsCoAdvantages.

Photo courtesy Mark Shannon