Chapter 901-2 Matching Grants

901-2-01 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

(A) "Agriculture" means commercial animal or poultry husbandry, aquaculture, apiculture, the production for a commercial purpose of timber, field crops, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, nursery stock, ornamental trees, sod, flowers, or the growth of timber for a noncommercial purpose, if the land on which the timber is grown is contiguous to or part of a parcel of land under common ownership that is otherwise devoted exclusively to agricultural use, or were devoted to and qualified for payments or other compensation under a land retirement or conservation program under an agreement with an agency of the federal government pursuant to section 5713.30 of the Revised Code.

(B) "Agricultural Area" means land that a political subdivision has identified in an adopted local comprehensive land use plan as significant for agriculture.

(C) "Agricultural District" means a tract, lot, or parcel of land that is enrolled with the county auditor as land devoted to agricultural use pursuant to Chapter 929. of the Revised Code.

(D) "Agricultural Easement" means an incorporeal right or interest in land that is held for the public purpose of retaining the use of land predominantly in agriculture; that imposes any limitations on the use or development of the land that are appropriate at the time of creation of the easement to achieve that purpose in perpetuity; that is in the form of articles of dedication, easement, covenant, restriction, or condition; and that includes appropriate provisions for the local holder to enter the property subject to the easement at reasonable times to ensure compliance with its provisions pursuant to section 5301.67 of the Revised Code.

(E) "Agricultural Easement Value" as determined by the department's points-based appraisal system, or a qualified appraiser if required by the director, equals the difference between the fair market value of the property before and after the easement takes effect.

(F) "Agricultural Security Area" means an area of at least five hundred acres of contiguous land that is enrolled with the county commissioners and township trustees for a period of ten years and devoted to agricultural use pursuant to sections 931.01 to 931.09 , 931.99 , and 5709.28 of the Revised Code.

(G) "Application for Certification" means the act of a municipal corporation, county, township, soil and water conservation district or charitable organization submitting an application to the director demonstrating that it has the managerial, legal and financial expertise to operate a local agricultural easement purchase program and to share legal responsibility with the director to select, hold, monitor, supervise and enforce the provisions of an agricultural easement.

(H) "Applicant" or "Local Sponsor" means a municipal corporation, county, township, soil and water conservation district, or charitable organization that applies for a matching grant on behalf of the landowner.

(I) "Application Property" means the land or lands that make up the holdings, on a single application, for which a matching grant is being sought in exchange for the sale of a perpetual agricultural easement.

(J) "Best Management Practices" means those farming methods generally accepted in the agricultural community as beneficial in conserving the productivity of farmland.

(K) "Century Farm" is an Ohio department of agriculture program designed to recognize families who have maintained a farm or homestead in their family for at least one hundred years with an emphasis on preserved working farms.

(L) "Certified Local Sponsor" is a local sponsor who has been approved by the director for certification under the ODA certification and capacity rating system and as further provided in rule 901-2-07 of the Administrative Code.

(M) "Charitable Organization" means an organization that meets the federal taxation requirements outlined within division (B) of section 5301.69 of the Revised Code.

(N) "Department of Agriculture" or "ODA" means the department of agriculture, state of Ohio.

(O) "Director" means the director of the Ohio department of agriculture or their designees.

(P) "Farmland Preservation Advisory Board" means the board as defined in section 901.23 of the Revised Code.

(Q) "Farmland Value" means the price as of the valuation date for land, exclusive of buildings and related site improvements, used for agriculture which a willing and informed seller who is not obligated to sell would accept for the land, and which a willing and informed buyer who is not obligated to buy would pay for the land. The valuation shall be determined by the department's points-based appraisal system, or a general real estate appraiser who is certified under Chapter 4763. of the Revised Code if required by the director. This value applies only to the comparable sales method of appraisal, not the points based appraisal method.

(R) "Fund" means the "Clean Ohio Agricultural Easement Fund" as defined by division (F) of section 901.21 of the Revised Code, and the agricultural easement purchase fund as defined by division (E) of section 901.21 of the Revised Code.

(S) "Grantor" means the landowner(s), partnership, corporation, or trust who sells or donates an agricultural easement to the director of the Ohio department of agriculture, a political subdivision, or a charitable organization.

(T) "Farmstead" or "Homestead" means the portion of an application property on which a residence, dwelling or house, or residence-related appurtenances are permitted.

(U) "Legal Entity" means a person, firm, corporation, association, or partnership, or other entity authorized under Ohio law.

(V) "Local Comprehensive Land Use Plan" means a municipal, county, township, or soil and water conservation district, comprehensive long range land use plan that identifies areas for agricultural protection and has been adopted by the local political subdivision.

(W) "Local Holder" means the municipal corporation, county, township, soil and water conservation district, or charitable organization as designated in the agricultural easement, which shares legal responsibility with the director of the Ohio department of agriculture to hold, monitor, supervise and enforce the provisions of the agricultural easement.

(X) "Local Sponsor" or "Applicant" means a municipal corporation, county, township, soil and water conservation district, or charitable organization that applies for a matching grant on behalf of the landowner.

(Y) "Market Value" means the price as of the valuation date for land exclusive of buildings and related site improvements, in accordance with its highest and best use which a willing and informed seller who is not obligated to sell would accept for the land and which a willing and informed buyer who is not obligated to buy would pay for the land. The valuation shall be determined by the department's points-based appraisal system, or a general real estate appraiser who is certified under Chapter 4763. of the Revised Code if required by the director. This value applies only to the comparable sales method of appraisal, not the points based appraisal method.

(Z) "NRCS" - natural resource conservation service.

(AA) "ODA Certification and Capacity Rating" means the certification by the director that a municipal corporation, county, township, soil and water conservation district or charitable organization has demonstrated in its application for certification that it does have the managerial, legal and fiscal expertise to operate a local agricultural easement purchase program and, based upon its degree of expertise, the director awards a matching grant of up to one million dollars to share legal responsibility with the department to select, hold, monitor, supervise, and enforce the provisions of an agricultural easement.

(BB) "ODNR" - The Ohio department of natural resources.

(CC) "Political Subdivision" means a municipal corporation, county, township, or soil and water conservation district.

(DD) "Purchase Agreement" means an agreement between the landowner and the Ohio department of agriculture in which the landowner agrees to convey an agricultural easement on certain property to the Ohio department of agriculture, and the department agrees to purchase the easement for a fixed price.

(EE) "Regional Balance" is based upon, but not limited to: (1) the number of applications from local sponsors received from a region in proportion to the total number of landowner applications submitted; (2) the number of applications for certification received from a region in proportion to the total number of applications submitted; and (3) the total amount of funds a region has previously received in proportion to the total amount of funds distributed.

(FF) "Soil and Water Conservation District" (SWCDs) -SWCDs provide assistance to urban and agricultural land users. Their specialties are soil erosion prevention and water management. The SWCDs are promulgated in the "soil conservation and domestic allotment Act of 1935", 16 U.S.C. 590a -0590 q- 3 .

(GG) Contiguous farmland means any of the following:

(1) Geographically contiguous property used for agriculture, which may include a homestead(s);

(2) Noncontiguous property used for agriculture that is owned by one person and connected by a right-of-way that the person controls and to which the public does not have access;

(3) Two or more pieces of property used for agriculture that would be geographically contiguous but for the fact that the property is separated by a public or private right-of-way or rights-of-way or by rivers, streams, creeks, or other bodies of water; or,

(4) Two or more pieces of property used for agriculture that would be geographically contiguous but for the fact that the property is separated by a unique corridor, such as a state owned interstate or railroad, and the director believes that it is in the land and department's best interest to have the farm parcels under one easement.

(HH) Flood pool- an area of flood-prone land subject to inundation by impounded floodwaters from a flood control structure. For dams with abnormal pool elevation, the lands surrounding this area that are below the elevation of an emergency spillway. This flood pool area is normally protected by a restricted development easement that was negotiated at the time of construction of the flood control structure.

Effective: 02/06/2014
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 10/18/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.21 , 901.22 , 901.23
Prior Effective Dates: 02/01/2002, 02/21/2005, 03/21/2006, 10/28/2010, 01/7/2013

901-2-02 Eligibility requirements for application property.

(A) To be eligible for consideration for a matching grant, the agricultural easement proposed to be purchased shall be on agricultural land that meets all the following criteria:

(1) The application property shall be valued, at the time the application is made, at its current agricultural use valuation for real estate tax purposes under section 5713.31 of the Revised Code, except that the homestead; wind energy-producing facilities, including windmills and wind turbines; bio-digesters; and/or other land uses as determined by the director need not be so valued.

(2) Application landowner must have fee simple title to the land.

(3) The landowner certifies that, to the best of the landowner's knowledge, the application property contains no hazardous substances or toxic wastes.

(4) Title to the application property shall not be subordinate to any other legal or equitable interest, the exercise of which would result in a conversion of the land from predominately agricultural use. A subordination agreement must be obtained by the landowner within a reasonable timeframe, as determined by the director. An extension of time to obtain subordination may be granted by ODA.

(5) All parcels submitted under one application shall be contiguous and no land that is included as part of the submitted parcels shall be excluded. Waiver of this requirement may be considered by ODA.

(6) The application property shall be enrolled, at the time the application is made, in the agricultural district program, under section 929.02 of the Revised Code, except that the homestead; wind energy-producing facilities, including windmills and wind turbines; bio-digesters; and/or other land uses as determined by the director need not be so valued.

(B) All applications for matching grants which meet all of the foregoing eligibility requirements shall be ranked in accordance with the criteria established in rule 901-2-05 of the Administrative Code.

(C) If the application does not meet all of the above requirements, the director or certified local sponsor may disqualify such application.

Effective: 01/07/2013
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 10/18/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.21 , 901.22
Prior Effective Dates: 02/01/02, 02/21/05, 3/21/2006, 10/28/10

901-2-03 Eligibility requirements for local sponsors.

(A) To be eligible for matching grants, political subdivisions and charitable organizations:

(1) Must agree to be named as the local holder of the agricultural easement and share legal responsibility to monitor, supervise and enforce the provisions of the easement.

(2) Must provide at least a twenty-five per cent local matching contribution in cash, or the landowner may agree to accept a minimum of a twenty-five per cent reduction of the agricultural easement value.

(3) If the grant recipient is a charitable organization, it must be tax exempt and be organized for the purpose of the preservation of agricultural land.

Effective: 01/07/2013
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 10/18/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.22 , 5301.691 , 5301.67
Prior Effective Dates: 02/01/02, 3/21/2006, 10/28/10

901-2-04 Application procedure.

(A) The open enrollment application period shall not exceed ninety days per year.

(B) Application shall be made on a form approved by the director. The application must contain, but is not limited to, the following information:

(1) A resolution, ordinance, or recorded action from the local sponsor supporting the landowner's application, certifying the availability and committing to pay the required local match, if applicable, and agreeing to share legal responsibility to monitor, supervise and enforce the agricultural easement.

(2) The printed name, address, telephone number and signature of all owners of the application property, including land contract holders`.

(3) The municipality, county, township, and street address where the application property is located.

(4) The name, address and telephone number of the person to be contacted regarding the application property if other than the landowner.

(5) Identification of any known restrictive covenants or third party interests.

(6) The current agricultural use value of the application property, and the market value of the application property as determined by the county auditor's most recent assessment.

(7) The most recent copy of the real property record from the county auditor establishing that the application property is valued for purposes of real property taxation at its current value for agricultural use under section 5713.31 of the Revised Code, as applicable, in paragraph (A)(1) of rule 901-2-02 of the Administrative Code.

(8) The most recent copy of the real property record from the county auditor establishing that the application property is currently enrolled in an agricultural district as provided for in section 929.02 of the Revised Code, as applicable, in paragraph (A)(6) of rule 901-2-02 of the Administrative Code.

(9) A copy of the current owner's deed of record.

(10) A map or aerial photograph of the application property including delineated homestead area(s), existing roads and buildings, boundaries, total road frontage of the farm, known power easements, and any land excluded from the easement.

(11) A sketch, aerial photograph, or a map showing an adequate radius around the application property to include the proximity of the application farm from any protected properties (easement and non-easement), to neighboring applicant farms, accessible public roadway intersection(s), including boundaries, distance from sewer and water, interchanges, known pipelines, and/or any other reported distances supported in the application.

(12) Indication of:

(a) Proximity to other protected lands;

(b) Best management practices;

(c) Development pressure;

(d) Local comprehensive planning and farmland preservation efforts;

(e) Other factors as determined by the director prior to each application funding round.

(C) The application shall contain a section approved by the county soil and water conservation district or the county natural resource conservation service, which includes, but is not limited, to the following:

(1) Total number of acres considered prime, unique, or locally important;

(2) The date and status of the conservation plan, if any, which has been approved by the county soil and water conservation district or county natural resource conservation service.

(3) A color-coded soils map containing a list of soil mapping unit names and symbols on the application property.

(D) The application must be signed by the local sponsor or its authorized representative completing the application.

(E) The county or municipal planner, engineer or other qualified official as approved by the director must also sign the application to verify that all reported distances are accurate and complete.

(F) If the local sponsor is a charitable organization, it must also submit:

(1) A copy of the organization's exemption under 26 U.S.C. 1 , subsection 501(a) and 501(c);

(2) A statement of the organization's stewardship endowment policy.

(3) An ordinance or resolution supporting the agricultural easement from the township(s) and county(ies) where the application property is located.

(G) In order for the charitable organization or soil and water conservation district to demonstrate to the director that it has the capability to hold, monitor and enforce an agricultural easement, the organization must provide, at the request of the director, information on the following:

(1) A copy of the organization's by-laws or regulations stating that farmland preservation is one of its purposes.

(2) A list of the organization's officers, board of directors, and members.

(3) The organization's financial condition, including a balance sheet, revenue and expense statement, and the financing available for monitoring and enforcing an agricultural easement.

(4) The organization's ability to provide the necessary managerial, legal and financial expertise to hold, monitor, and enforce an agricultural easement.

(H) No application shall be accepted which is:

(1) Completed and postmarked after the closing date for submission;

(2) Incomplete, or not accompanied by all of the information required within the application.

(I) Amendments to easement application:

Amendments of application will be allowed only if the amendment is received prior to the application deadline. No amendment will be permitted after the application deadline.

(J) Clarification and corrections

During the application review process the Ohio department of agriculture or the certified local sponsor may request clarification from an applicant\landowner and may provide an applicant an opportunity to correct typographical errors\defects in the application.

(K) Applications must contain all material requested within the application. Any application failing to meet the requirements of the rule shall automatically be disqualified, unless the director believes that it is in the department's best interest to waive any defect in the application.

Effective: 01/07/2013
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 10/18/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.21 , 901.22 , 5301.67
Prior Effective Dates: 02/01/02, 02/21/05, 03/21/2006, 10/28/10

901-2-05 Farmland ranking system.

(A) Prior to accepting applications for matching grants, the director shall notify and make available, through various farm organizations, charitable organizations, and political subdivisions: (1) the procedure for applying for matching grants; (2) the application; and (3) the farmland preservation ranking system.

(B) The farmland preservation ranking system shall be comprised of one ranking system. For each criterion in the one hundred point ranking system, a weighted score range is indicated. Prior to each application funding round the director, with the advice of the farmland preservation advisory board, or if a certified local sponsor is participating, the certified local sponsor shall determine the specific value within this range for each ranking criterion as indicated in paragraph (C) of this rule. Applications approved by the director will then be submitted for phase two evaluation.

(C) Farmland preservation ranking system (one hundred points total as calculated from the following ranges):

(1) Soil types and agricultural productivity; Range: fifteen to thirty points. Emphasis for matching grants is placed on soils which are classified as prime or officially designated unique or locally important.

(2) Protected areas. Range: fifteen to thirty points. Emphasis for matching grants is placed on land that is adjacent to or in close proximity, in a formula approved during the certification process by the director or otherwise mathematically defined by the director, to agricultural land or other land that is conducive to agriculture, whether such land is in the process of being protected or is already permanently protected such that a buffer from development exists between land proposed for agricultural easement and areas that have been developed or likely will be developed for purposes other than agriculture. These protected areas include, but are not limited to, the following:

(a) Agricultural, natural resource, open space, or forested land that has already been permanently protected from development through agricultural or conservation easements;

(b) Flood pools and other normally undevelopable waterbodies ;

(c) Parks, open spaces, forests, nature preserves and other natural areas that are not protected from development through conservation easements but have permanent deed restrictions or other restrictions which the director determines could protect agricultural land ;

(d) Publicly owned agricultural research lands that the director determines could protect agricultural land ; and,

(e) Airports, military bases, or other developed areas that the director determines could be appropriately buffered by agricultural land.

(3) Use of best management practices including approved conservation plans; Range: five to ten points. Emphasis for matching grants may be given to, but is not limited to, the landowner who certification from the natural resource conservation service, soil and water conservation district, or other generally accepted qualified organization, as determined by the director, stating that the operation of the application property includes best management practices utilizing appropriate conservation standards, has a forestry management plan approved by the Ohio department of natural resources or qualified organization, as determined by the director, if applicable, and has a history of substantial compliance with federal and state agricultural laws.

(4) Development pressure. Range fifteen to thirty points. Emphasis for matching grants is placed on farmland faced with potential development pressure that is likely to affect the ability of the farm operator to conduct agricultural activities or cause conversion of the agricultural land to nonagricultural uses. Development factors may include, but are not limited to, the following:

(a) Roadway distance from any border of the property to sanitary sewer and water;

(b) Roadway distance to the nearest freeway interchanges;

(c) Application property public roadway frontage;;

(d) Development pressure as measured by activity such as an increase in lot splits, well or septic permits, traffic counts, or other indicators determined by the director to accurately measure such pressure.

(5) A local comprehensive land use plan which identifies areas for agricultural protection. Range fifteen to thirty points. Emphasis for matching grants may be placed on, but is not limited to, application properties which are located within a designated agricultural area of a political subdivision's long range plan and where the political subdivision has adopted specific action to protect the area, such as zoning where agriculture is the predominant land use, a commitment not to extend utilities, or initiate any non-agricultural development activity.

(6) Other criteria as approved by the director. Range fifteen to thirty points. These criteria include, but are not limited to, the following:

(a) Application property location relative to a metropolitan statistical area;

(b) Application property enrollment in the agricultural security area program;

(c) Historic or archaeological designation ;

(d) Century farm designation by the director ; and,

(e) Application property with local match higher than the required twenty-five per cent minimum, through cash or donation.

(D) For each funding round, the director may adopt some or all of the following guidelines:

(1) A limit on the number of application properties, acres, or dollar amount funded per county;

(2) A limit on the number of application properties per grantor;

(3) A limit on the dollar amount funded per certified local sponsor;

(4) A maximum dollar amount per acre of matching grant funds;

(5) A maximum dollar amount of matching grant funds per landowner shall not exceed one million dollars, as required by section 901.22 of the Revised Code.

(6) A consideration of regional balance, as defined by paragraph ( EE) in rule 901-2-01 of the Administrative Code.

Effective: 01/07/2013
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 10/18/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.22 , 901.23
Prior Effective Dates: 02/01/02, 02/21/05, 03/21/2006, 10/28/10

901-2-06 Determination of selected application properties.

(A) Phase one "Application" -

(1) Applications reviewed by the department: Within ninety days of the close of the application period, and after the farmland ranking system evaluation is completed, the department shall determine the top scoring applications, in descending order, and the top scoring applications shall proceed to phase two of the process.

(2) Applications reviewed by certified local sponsors: Within ninety days of the close of the application period, and after the farmland ranking system evaluation is completed, top scoring applications shall be selected by the certified local sponsor and forwarded to the department for phase two.

(B) Phase two "Review" - Within ninety days of the receipt of applications selected by the department and certified local sponsors, the farmland preservation advisory board shall review the selected applications as provided by the director and the certified local sponsors, and shall ensure that the applications are given a score according to the farmland preservation ranking system within the ranges as prescribed by these rules. Once the applications are found compliant, the farmland preservation advisory board shall then ensure that the applications as submitted are in compliance with the director's guidelines as provided for the current funding round. The farmland preservation advisory board shall then advise the director of those applications which are compliant with the ranking system and within the director's guidelines for that funding round. Upon such selection, the director and/or certified local sponsors shall notify the landowners their application has been selected to proceed to phase three of the process. If additional time is required to notify the landowner(s) of their selection to proceed to phase three, the local sponsor shall request a time extension from the director. The granting of such extension of time shall be in the director's sole discretion.

(C) Phase three "Purchase Agreement / Contingency" -

This phase confirms that the application property has been approved for grant funding pending completion of a title search or letter of clear title and review of any contingencies, such as legal boundary, review, appraisal, and signing of the purchase agreement. Once ODA has received a signed purchase agreement from the landowner, the application shall proceed to phase four.

The following documents must be obtained and conditions met at the landowner's sole expense:

(1) A current title search performed by an authorized title insurance agency for the entire application property;

(2) A title insurance commitment naming the Ohio department of agriculture as an insured party;

(3) A property survey, if required in the sole discretion of the director

(4) Interests that limit the title of a property, such as mortgages, leases, liens, restrictions, or legal or equitable interests, must be cleared or subordinated, unless exempted by the director.

If the holder of a lien/mortgage on the property will not sign the subordination agreement prior to the signing of the agricultural easement, the landowner must provide the office of farmland preservation a commitment letter from the lien/mortgage holder which states their obligations to subordinate their interests to ODA once at or prior to landowner receiving any funds from ODA.

(D) At the director's discretion, a comparable land appraisal may be required. The party responsible for incurring the cost of the comparable land appraisal will be determined by the director prior to phase three "Purchase Agreement/Contingency" of the application period.

(E) Costs incurred by ODA or the local sponsor for the above items may be paid directly to ODA or the local sponsor, or may be reimbursed to ODA or the local sponsor at closing. ODA will review the documentation for compliance with the program requirements. The application may proceed if ODA determines that the documentation is satisfactory.

(F) The purchase agreement shall include but not be limited to:

(1) The total amount of the offer per acre, and for the entire application property;

(2) A statement that the grantor has no actual knowledge of hazardous substances or wastes, and that the grantee is held harmless from any and all liability or expense arising from violation of environmental laws and regulations;

(3) Any other provisions the director deems necessary for the landowner to be aware of prior to signing a deed of agricultural easement, and permitted pursuant to section 901.21 or 901.22 or division (D)(2) of section 5301.691 of the Revised Code.

(a) Within thirty days of receipt of the option to purchase from the director, the landowner shall sign and return the document to the director, or advise the director, in writing, of their rejection of the offer. Failure of the applicant or landowner to act within thirty days of the date the offer is postmarked shall constitute a rejection of the director's offer to purchase.

(b) If the option to purchase is signed by all parties, then the application shall proceed to phase five.

(G) Phase four "Final Review" - ODA shall review a title search and conduct a boundary line review, and if necessary obtain an appraisal in order to determine if application property meets the criteria to receive grant money under the program. A final determination as to the award of the grant shall be made in the sole discretion of the director.

The final review phase will consist of, but not be limited to:

(1) A title search or letter of clear title; however, if the title search reveals other third party interests, not previously known, that may not be conducive to keeping the land in agriculture if exercised, a statement of subordination to the terms of the agricultural easement shall be obtained from the third party by the landowner, before proceeding to rule 901-2-08 of the Administrative Code. Otherwise, a statement of no unsubordinated third party interests shall be included in the results of the title search.

(2) A property survey, if required by the director.

(3) A property appraisal on the application property, if required.

(4) The applicant completing a present condition report using a template provided by the director as specified in rule 901-2-08 of the Administrative Code.

(5) Such other information as is necessary and useful to determine that the property is appropriate for inclusion, as requested by the director.

(H) Phase five " Execution of Deed of Easement" upon the review of documents required by this rule, the landowner shall convey a deed of agricultural easement to the state of Ohio where:

(1) ODA shall:

(a) Tender a lump sum payment to title insurance company or the local sponsor, who will obtain a title insurance company or other agent to act, as escrow agent for distribution to:

(i) The landowner and/or landowner's assignee(s) in the proportions directed by the landowner, or

(ii) Through an installment purchase agreement. Such agreement must be pre-approved by the director and shall include:

(a) Any installment payment terms;

(b) Dates and amounts of payments and to whom payable, including without limitation any assignee(s) of landowner; and,

(c) Interest rate on the outstanding balance.

Effective: 02/06/2014
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 10/18/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.22
Prior Effective Dates: 02/01/2002, 02/21/2005, 03/21/2006, 10/28/2010, 01/7/2013

901-2-07 Certified local sponsor selected matching grants.

(A) A "certified local sponsor" is a municipal corporation, board of county commissioners or township trustees, a soil and water conservation district or land trust that has demonstrated, as proscribed by the director, that the local sponsor would have the managerial, legal and financial expertise to:

(1) Operate a local agricultural easement purchase program and apply for matching grants; and,

(2) Share legal responsibility with the department to hold, monitor, supervise, and enforce the provisions of an agricultural easement.

(B) To be designated a certified local sponsor, an organization must:

(1) Apply to the department on a form provided by the director;

(2) Meet all requirements for participation in the certified local sponsor program as indicated on the application; and,

(3) On approval of the application for certification, the certified local sponsor shall sign a cooperative agreement with the department.

(C) Local sponsors which have been designated as certified local sponsors may accept applications from landowners for agricultural easement matching grants, and select landowners for matching grants using the requirements and procedures in this chapter.

(D) The requirements and procedures for certified local sponsors selecting landowners for matching grants are modified as follows:

(1) Requirements for the application in paragraphs (D), (F)(1), and (F)(2) of rule 901-2-04 of the Administrative Code are exempted for certified local sponsors;

(2) The landowner applicant shall sign the completed application;

(3) Criteria in paragraph (C) of rule 901-2-05 of the Administrative Code may be weighted as determined by the certified local sponsor. Weighting shall be made available to applicant landowners prior to accepting applications for each round of funding;

(4) Applications shall be reviewed and ranked by the certified local sponsor using the criteria in paragraph (C) of rule 901-2-05 of the Administrative Code;

(5) Landowner applicants may provide photos, maps, or other visual aids not to exceed page and size limits set by the certified local sponsor;

(6) For each funding round, the certified local sponsors must abide by any guidelines as adopted by the director; and,

(7) Upon review and ranking of applications, the certified local sponsors shall send the ranked applications in conformance with any then applicable guidelines provided by the director to the farmland preservation advisory board for review and approval as provided in paragraph (B) of rule 901-2-06 of the Administrative Code.

(E) If a points-based appraisal is used for determining valuation, the certified local sponsor shall use the department's points-based appraisal system.

Effective: 01/07/2013
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/07/2018
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.21 , 901.22 , 5301.691 , 5301.67

901-2-08 Present condition report.

(A) The purpose of the present condition report is to document and record the use, nature and condition of an application property and its improvements at the approximate time an agricultural easement is purchased. The report is used as a baseline document to assist in monitoring and enforcing the terms of the agricultural easement. The report shall be completed by the applicant using the template provided by the director. The applicant and the landowner shall sign the acknowledgment of condition page. The present condition report may be an exhibit to the agricultural easement.

(B) The narrative descriptions in the present condition report shall be in sufficient detail and clarity to accomplish the purposes of the report.

(C) All photographs shall be in color, clear, and in focus, except historical photographs. .

(D) All maps and accompanying supporting documentation shall be clearly legible and capable of being photocopied.

(E) If the county recorder in the county where the deed of agricultural easement is recorded refuses or is unable to record the maps and photographs, contained in the present condition report, the maps and photographs shall be filed with the office of farmland preservation at the Ohio department of agriculture. A separate agreement will be signed by ODA, the local sponsor and the grantor acknowledging that such maps and photographs shall be filed with the office of farmland preservation at the Ohio department of agriculture.

Effective: 10/28/2010
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 08/13/2010 and 10/18/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.22 , 5301.691
Prior Effective Dates: 02/01/02, 02/21/05, 03/21/2006

901-2-09 Appraisals.

(A) Appraisals required under this section shall be conducted using either a points-based appraisal system or the comparable sales methodology.

(B) The points based appraisal system shall comply with the requirements set forth in division (D) of section 901.22 of the Revised Code.

(C) The comparable sales methodology shall comply with the requirements set forth by the funding source's guidelines.

Effective: 10/28/2010
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 08/13/2010 and 10/18/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.22
Prior Effective Dates: 2-1-02; 2-21-2005

901-2-10 Deed of agricultural easement.

(A) Deed provisions

(1) The deed of agricultural easement shall identify the owner of the application property as grantor and the director of the department of agriculture ,the local holder(s), and if applicable a federal holder as the grantees.

(2) The deed of agricultural easement shall comply with but not be limited to, division (A)(2) of section 901.22 of the Revised Code.

Effective: 10/28/2010
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 08/13/2010 and 10/18/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.22 , 5301.67
Prior Effective Dates: 2-1-02; 2-21-2005

901-2-11 Supervision and enforcement.

(A) The local holder who sponsors the applicant property shall be obligated to monitor and enforce compliance with the terms and conditions of the agricultural easement. Annually, the local holder shall visit the application property preserved with matching dollars to determine if the provisions of the agricultural easement are being complied with. Prior to conducting the monitoring visit, the local holder shall review the provisions of the agricultural easement.

(B) Written notice of the annual on-site inspection shall be sent by the local holder to the landowner at least ten days prior to the date of inspection. The annual inspections shall be conducted between eight a.m. and five p.m. on a weekday other than a legal holiday, unless the landowner agrees otherwise. The director and the local holder shall have the right, with reasonable notice, to inspect the property as long as the agricultural easement is in effect.

(C) Within a reasonable time after conducting an inspection the local holder shall prepare a written inspection report using the template provided by the director, including but not limited to the following information:

(1) The identification of the land inspected.

(2) The name of the owner of the property at the time the easement was originally acquired and the name of the current owner of the land inspected.

(3) Description of modifications in the number, type, location or use of any buildings or structures on the land since the date of the last annual on-site inspection report.

(4) A description of deviations from best management practices observed on the restricted land.

(5) A description of any subsequent legal interests claimed on the protected property.

(D) The local holder shall provide a copy of the inspection report to the landowner and the director.

(E) If the local holder's inspection reveals any violations of the easement, the local holder shall include, with its report sent to the landowner and the director, a notice of violation. The notice shall contain the following:

(1) A description of the action or condition which the local holder alleges is a violation of the terms of the easement.

(2) A statement of the measures necessary to correct the alleged violation.

(3) A time frame of thirty days for correcting any violation(s).

(4) A statement that failure to correct the violation(s) will lead to civil action.

(F) If the violation(s) are not corrected as outlined to the landowner in the report of paragraph (E) of this rule, the director or the local holder shall initiate an action in the court of common pleas of the county in which the restricted land is located seeking an order requiring correction of the violation(s), enjoining further violation of the terms of the easement, and may request additional relief of the court. The director shall be named a party in the initiation of any court proceedings. The above actions may occur unless the local holder does one of the following::

(1) Determines that the landowner has commenced the necessary corrective measures, or determines that the necessary corrective measures cannot reasonably be completed within the thirty day period described in this subsection, and

(2) Establishes a period not to exceed one hundred eighty days within which corrective measures shall be completed.

(3) When the violation is corrected, the local holder or the director shall issue a letter of no further action required.

(a) If the violation is not corrected within the one hundred eighty day time period, the local holder shall commence and prosecute the enforcement action in the court of common pleas.

(G) The director shall be a party to all enforcement actions filed by the local holder. The director, at the request of the local holder, may assist in any court actions. No enforcement action shall be dismissed without the consent of the director.

(H) If at any time the director or the local holder believes that a violation of the easement could irreversibly diminish or impair the property for agricultural use they may take immediate, appropriate legal action, including obtaining an injunction without notice, to stop the violation or to require the grantor to correct the violation.

(I) Notwithstanding any other rule in this section, the director or the director's designee reserves the right to conduct an inspection of the application property and enforce any violations of the deed of agricultural easement.

Effective: 10/28/2010
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 08/13/2010 and 10/18/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.22 , 5301.691
Prior Effective Dates: 02/01/02, 02/21/05, 03/21/2006

901-2-12 Easement extinguishment.

(A) An agricultural easement which is purchased in whole or in part from the fund must be held in perpetuity. If due to an unexpected change in the conditions of or surrounding the land that is subject to the easement makes impossible or impractical the continued use of the land for the purposes described in the easement, then the grantor may request the local holder to extinguish the easement, either in whole or in part pursuant to division (A) of section 901.22 of the Revised Code.

(B) Upon request, the local holder shall investigate the claim by the grantor that there has been an unexpected change in the conditions of or surrounding the land that makes it impossible or impractical to continue use of the land for the agricultural purposes described in the easement. These changes can be:

(1) Natural physical changes to the land that have occurred which are generally irreversible in nature and permanently affect the agricultural use of the land; or

(2) Development pressure adjacent to or surrounding the land that renders the agricultural use of the land impossible or impractical.

(C) The director and the local holder may seek expert advice from individuals, agencies and organizations to assist in developing objective criteria on which an extinguishment can be evaluated.

(D) The investigation by the local holder must include an on-site inspection of the land and a conference with the grantor. Any costs incurred by the local holder to conduct the investigation may be charged to the grantor. The results of the investigation will be used by the director and the local holder to determine whether to approve the request for extinguishment.

(E) The director and the local holder must both approve or reject a request from the grantor for an extinguishment of an agricultural easement within ninety days of receiving said request, or the request is considered to be rejected.

(F) If the request for extinguishment is approved by the director and the local holder, a resolution or ordinance from the legislative authority or local holder stating support for the extinguishment of the agricultural easement, along with any related supporting materials documenting the reasons for extinguishment, shall be forwarded to the director for purposes of record keeping in the department.

(G) Upon receipt of approval of the extinguishment from the director, the local holder shall notify the grantor of the director's decision to approve the request for extinguishment, and, on a form provided by the director, shall notify the county auditor and county recorder of the extinguishment who shall place a lien upon the property.

(H) If the grantor's request for extinguishment of the agricultural easement is not approved by the director and local holder, then the grantor may appeal the decision to the court of common pleas.

(I) If the grantor donated any portion of the agricultural easement to the director, and received federal tax benefits for doing so, then the easement can be extinguished only by a court proceeding using the criteria specified in paragraphs (A) to (G) of this rule.

(J) An agricultural easement may be extinguished by eminent domain proceedings under applicable state or federal law.

R.C. 119.032 review dates: 08/13/2010 and 08/13/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.21 , 901.22
Prior Effective Dates: 2-1-02

901-2-13 Recoupment of funds.

(A) Upon the sale, exchange or involuntary conversion of the protected property a recoupment of funds, equal to the proportionate value of the easement compared to the total market value of the land when the easement was purchased shall upon receipt by the local holder, be remitted to the director for deposit in the agricultural easement purchase fund created in division (E) of section 901.21 of the Revised Code.

(B) The recoupment amount will be calculated by using the percentage of the fair market value of the land that was granted from the fund at the time the agricultural easement was acquired, and applying that percentage to the fair market value at the time the agricultural easement is extinguished. The fair market value shall be determined by a general real estate appraiser who is certified under Chapter 4763. of the Revised Code.

(C) The local holder's proportionate value contribution to the purchase shall be returned to the political subdivision or charitable organization that made the contribution.

(D) If the minimum twenty-five per cent local match for the agricultural easement value was by donation from the landowner, the proportionate value which was donated shall be retained by the landowner.

R.C. 119.032 review dates: 08/13/2010 and 08/13/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.21 , 901.22
Prior Effective Dates: 2-1-02

901-2-14 Meetings of farmland preservation advisory board.

(A) Board meetings

The director or the director's designee shall call meetings of the advisory board when it is necessary for the board to provide advice to the director, and the non-voting chairperson shall provide notice of any meetings pursuant to paragraph (B) of this rule.

(B) Notice of meetings

(1) Regular meetings: Notice of all of the advisory board's regularly scheduled meetings, including date, starting time and location will be posted on the Ohio department of agriculture's web site at least ten days in advance of all scheduled meetings, and may also be provided to the Gongwer or Hannah news service for publication.

(2) Special meetings: Notice of date, time, place, and purpose of any special meetings shall be placed on the Ohio department of agriculture's website at least twenty-four hours prior to said meeting and may also be provided to Hannah or Gongwer news services for website or print publication. Notice may also be sent to other media outlets that requested such information.

(3) Emergency meetings: Notice of date, time, location and purpose of all emergency meetings shall be given to all news media who requested prior notification, and the meeting notice shall be published in on the department's website and may also be provided to Hannah or Gongwer news services for website or print publication.

(C) Any person may obtain prior notice of the date, time, and location of any regularly scheduled, special, or emergency, meetings when a particular type of business is to be discussed by requesting prior notification in writing from the "Ohio Department of Agriculture, Office of Farmland Preservation, 8995 East Main Street, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068."

Effective: 12/14/2009
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 02/18/2009 and 12/14/2014
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 901.22
Rule Amplifies: 901.23
Prior Effective Dates: 8/25/03, 2/21/2005