Letter: There is no excuse for ending the agricultural reserve program

Dear Editor:

I grew up in Pungo at Vaughan Farms, and I now live in Massachusetts. It baffles me that here in Massachusetts, where people think “city,” municipalities actively seek to purchase open land and green space from citizens to preserve the land under agriculture and conservation programs. Often, the municipalities rent it out to local farmers.

Whereas in my hometown of Virginia Beach, the city is trying to wipe out the agriculture land as we know it by doing away with the agricultural reserve program, or ARP.

I currently “own” 21 acres in Massachusetts, 19 of which I can’t touch – even for things like building a fence – without multiple meetings with the local conservation commission because it is within 200 feet of a wetland.

I’m happy knowing that, if I ever did go through the process of putting up a fence, it will have gone multiple reviews to ensure any potential damage to the protected land will be mitigated. People physically come check your project a year later. 

Virginia Beach won’t admit that it didn’t do enough due diligence on drainage, among other things, in the first place prior to overdeveloping lower Virginia Beach.

There is no excuse for taking money and getting rid of the ARP. Virginia Beach should give more of a damn about saving nature and the livelihood of these small family farms. 

– Autumn Vaughan Kellar, Lancaster, Mass.

Ed. – The author is a civil engineer who works on infrastructure issues such as drainage design and with local conservation commissions and municipal planning boards on drainage issues.

© 2018 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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