Takings, Fairness, and Farmland Preservation
Cordes, Mark W.
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In a recent article published in this Journal, Professor Jesse Richardson attempted to refute the arguments proposed by myself and others that support the fairness of downzoning land without compensation to property owners. Central to most farmland preservation efforts is agricultural zoning, which typically involves downzoning farmland to agricultural use, precluding more intensive development. This article will briefly comment on the role compensatory programs like PDRs and TDRs should play in effective farmland preservation programs. This is true even if downzoning results in substantial diminution of land values, which means that local governments can pursue farmland preservation by putting the cost of regulation on affected landowners. Indeed, in a perfect world, I would make generous use of both PDRs and TDRs to help mitigate the sometimes harsh effects of downzoning farmland. Thus, although PDRs and TDRs both have a role to play in a comprehensive farmland system, most efforts at farmland preservation must rely heavily on agricultural zoning, without compensation, to succeed. Contrary to the impression created by Professor Richardson, I am not opposed to compensatory farmland preservation programs such as PDRs and TDRs. He emphasized the individual status of the landowner in relation to the single restriction in question.