The Harford Agricultural Land Preservation Program (HALPP) program allows for either a District Agreement or a perpetual Preservation Easement. A District Agreement is a 5 year commitment limiting the subdivision of a parcel in return for a tax credit of $50 per acre, offsetting up to 50% of that parcel’s Harford County property tax. After the 5 year term has expired, the agreement and tax credit remain in effect until the property owner requests termination. Upon termination, all accrued property tax credits must be refunded to Harford County. Property owners can request a District Agreement at any time and it is not a prerequisite for a permanent easement.

Purchase Development Rights
Harford County Agricultural Land Preservation Easements are Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) contracts that permanently extinguish all preexisting development potential of a particular property and are not used to offset development elsewhere in the county. Other than very limited rights reserved to the original grantor and their immediate family, no further commercial or residential subdivision is allowed. The grantor of the easement and all subsequent owners of the property retain full fee simple ownership of the land, but are bound by the terms of the Deed of Easement which is recorded in the Land Records of the county. Harford County dedicates ½ of the revenues generated by a 1% Transfer Tax on all real property transactions county wide to fund this program, with offer cycles typically occurring annually.

Easement Priority Ranking
All applications are evaluated using a standardized Easement Priority Ranking (EPR) form as provided in County Council Bill 07-05 that assesses a variety of criteria including land characteristics, soil productivity, development potential, farm size and proximity to other preserved lands. A separate formula, also included in the enabling legislation, is used to calculate the easement value for each parcel. Offers can then be extended based on the ranking order so far as funds are available.

Easement proceeds are currently paid out by way of a 20 year Installment Purchase Agreement (IPA) that provides tax free interest payments to Maryland residents with a balloon principal payment at the end of the term. The property also receives a tax credit of $50 per acre, up to the full amount of Harford County property taxes. This property tax credit extends to all subsequent property owners. Additionally, significant income and estate tax benefits may be realized dependent on the individuals specific financial situation and based on consultation with accountants and legal professionals experienced with these programs.