Fayette County's PDR Plan Hits Stride

Three sets of horse farm owners in Fayette County, Ky., will be paid a total of $636,340 for the development rights to their collective 246.95 acres of land. The payment is the first part of Fayette County's Purchase of Development Rights program (PDR). With horse farms in the area selling for as much as $11,000 an acre, owners could be accepting a substantial cut in possible profits to keep their land for agriculture use.
Col. Horace N. Davis owns Bluegrass Heights Farm with his wife, Marion. The cost wasn't Davis' main concern when he applied.

"We're pretty excited about it," said Davis, whose farm has been in his family since 1901. "We're trying to draw the line so (development) doesn't jump over our heads and go on."

Davis' farm is at the boundary of Fayette County's urban service area. Across the street from him is the former site of Glenridge Farm where Real Quiet was foaled. That property is currently being developed.

"We're very proud of our farm," Davis said. "We've raised two Derby winners here, Black Gold and Burgoo King." Davis is slated to receive $270,720 for the development rights to 94.35 acres of his 278-acre farm. The farm is home to about 120 horses, plus cattle. He also raises tobacco. Davis said the remainder of the property is already in conservation and/or preservation easements, so with this addition, all of it is protected from development.

A total of 12 pieces of property are the initial group of participants in the (PDR) program. Two others parcels: 60.6 acres of Claire Murphy's Rockwell Farm and 92 acres of Marty and Cindy Takacs' Belvedere Farm, house Thoroughbreds.

These 12 originated from a group of about 37 applicants. Although all the signatures aren't yet on the contracts to complete the deals, if the planned properties are signed into perpetuity, a total of 1,572 acres will be involved. Hopes are to eventually have as many as 50,000 acres of land in Fayette County preserved over the next 20 years.

The way the program works is a volunteer group, called the Rural Land Management Board, accepts applications from interested landowners. After thorough reviews, including appraisals, if a landowner is accepted and all legalities are in order, they put the property in a conservation easement. This is an agreement between the landowner and the board that the property will be used exclusively for agriculture. The easement is not linked to each owner, but the land itself, so its sale does not change its status. The next set of applications will begin May 1.