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Frequently Asked Questions
Am I Eligible for Agricultural Preservation?
Anyone who has a farm that meets the three main criteria below is eligible for one of our preservation programs. To be eligible for the Rural Legacy Program, your property must be located in one of the designated Rural Legacy areas.
    • The Property Must be 50+ Acres Unless it Adjoins a Property already under a Permanent Easement.
    • The Property must have Qualifying Soils.
    • The Property must have Development  Rights.
 
What is an Easement?
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits development of a property in order to protect its agricultural or natural resource value. Easements allow the landowner to continue to own and use their land as they normally would and to sell it or pass it on to heirs, however the easement is a deed restriction that goes with the property when it is sold or bequeathed. Subsequent owners of the property have to abide by the easement restrictions and cannot develop the property.  

What Does Land Preservation Prevent Me From Doing with My Farm?

Land preservation limits development on farmland. Farms in the Land Preservation Program are required to keep their property in agricultural use. Development can only occur in accordance with the easement such as a tenant house or owner's lot or children's lot. Land preservation easements only buy the farm's development rights, not the farm itself. Owners can sell the farm as long as it is kept in agricultural use and no development occurs. Please refer to each program for information on allowable building lots.  

Do I Need a Soil Conservation Plan?
Conservation Plans are valuable in helping to protect water quality by correcting soil erosion problems, and by keeping waterways on farms unpolluted. All farms accepted in one of the Land Preservation Programs must have a soil conservation plan in place. Plans can be started by contacting the local Soil Conservation District Office at (301) 695-2803.

Do I need a building permit for an agricultural building?
No. Barns, silos, and other agricultural buildings only need a zoning certificate; agricultural processing buildings such as buildings for wine production need a building permit and a zoning certificate before construction. Buildings such as garages are not considered agricultural buildings therefore they require building permits.

Do agricultural buildings require plumbing or electrical permits?  Are they subject to inspections? 
Yes. Plumbing and electrical installation requires permits and inspections.

Do I need to subdivide my property to give a lot to my son or daughter?
Yes. You must comply with all of the county and state regulations, such as well and septic regulations before you can give land to a child. The first step is to hire a surveyor to prepare a subdivision plan and have the plan submitted to the Community Development Division for approval

How do I sell a portion of land to my neighbor?
The first step is to have a surveyor draw up a plat map to add their property to yours. This is called an addition plat. The surveyor will then submit the plat to the County’s Community Development Division for approval.

How many development rights (lots) am I entitled to?
Development rights are determined by zoning regulations, which state that any agriculturally zoned land that existed as of August 18, 1976 is entitled to 3 development rights plus the remainder lot.  Depending on the size of the farm, additional rights may be given if the lots are clustered.  Cluster rights are determined by the size of the farm. All properties must go through the subdivision regulations set by the Frederick County Community Development Division.

Are mobile homes permitted in the agricultural zone?
Yes, mobile homes are permitted as primary dwellings or to be used as a tenant house.

If I replace a dwelling do I need to pay the impact fee?
You can request a waiver of the impact fee if you are replacing one dwelling for an existing dwelling that is being taxed as a dwelling unit.

Is a permit required for a new well?
Yes. Please contact the Health Department for more information concerning wells.

Is a permit required for a new driveway?
Yes. Please contact the Construction Management Department for additional information on driveway permits.

Are there regulations on clearing trees?
Yes. Certain regulations may apply if you are clearing trees. Please contact the Community Development Division or more information.

Is there a limit to the number of farm animals I can have?
If you are zoned agricultural there is no limit to the number of farm animals you may have with the exception of hogs. Swine operations must comply with the Intensive Swine Feeding Operations Part I Chapter 19 Sections 8.500 to 8.500.16 of the Zoning Ordinance.

Am I allowed to sell agricultural products on my property?
Yes, as long as the agricultural product is grown on the property. Products such as vegetables, fruits and hay can all be sold on the farm.

What about producing and selling jellies, ice cream, wine, etc.?
Producing an agricultural product such as wine from grapes is considered agricultural processing and requires special permitting. Please contact the Community Development Division for more information.

What about corn mazes or petting farms?
Yes, these are allowed in agriculturally zoned properties without a permit as long as they meet the requirements of the agricultural enterprise section of the Zoning Ordinance.

What about tenant houses, how many acres do I need to build one? 
Are there building size limitations?

Tenant houses require permits, impact fees and all other approvals. There are no size limitations on tenant houses. The number of tenant houses you are entitled to depends on the amount of acreage you own.  See chart below.
Acres Tenant Houses
25 - 99.9
1
100 - 149.9
2
150 - 199.9
3