Thursday, November 6, 2008

Braun Farm development rights to be sold to city, township of Ann Arbor

The city of Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Township have struck a deal to purchase the development rights to the 285-acre Charles and Catherine Braun farm, north of the city.

The farm, located on the west side of Whitmore Lake Road, south of Joy Road, has long been eyed by leaders in both communities who want to preserve the open space along the scenic two-lane road.

A federal grant through the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program will be used to pay more than $1.4 million toward the appraised price of about $4 million.

The two communities will split the balance, plus closing and related costs.

The city's share will come from its greenbelt program; the township's from a land-preservation tax.

The property was at the heart of a plan to build 1,300 Ann Arbor homes - a project, dubbed Colt Farms, a number of years ago.

When Ann Arbor Township refused to rezone the Ann Arbor real estate land to allow the project, the Brauns joined a lawsuit brought by the developer.

Now, the couple expects to get $14,000 an acre for the development rights to the land, which is currently under cultivation.

The property includes rolling hills, wetlands and woods.

Greenbelt officials said the easement will be transferred to the township after closing.

Although, in many cases, landowners donate to city land-preservation efforts by reducing the price, the Brauns declined to make that kind of concession, greenbelt officials said.

The property is proximate to other protected land, including a second Ann Arbor Township parcel that the City Council will be asked to acquire the development rights to tonight.

The William Gould property is a 51-acre property on Joy Road.

A federal grant will provide $256,000 toward the appraised value of $691,000.

The township will provide $230,000 including some closing-related expenses.

Greenbelt officials propose setting aside $24,000 for the purpose, making the city's share $269,000.
The price per acre for the development rights for the two properties compares to $18,000 an acre the greenbelt program paid for an 82-acre property Pittsfield Township in July; and the $14,000 an acre price put development rights on 43 acres of farmland on Saline-Milan Road in York Township last year.

From Ann Arbor News-MLive
Photo by Coal and Ice via Flickr

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