Want to keep sprawl out of your community? Do like the folks in Yellow Springs did: buy the farm. When the town wanted to protect itself from sprawling development, they got organized and bought up 930 acres of farmland at an auction that could have led instead to some revolting developments. When residents learned that the Whitehall Farm north of town was on the auction block, they raised $3.2 million and bought the farm. The town came up with $400,000 from a special green-space fund, and many small fund-raising events were organized to move towards the goal. Residents raised a total of $600,000, combined with town money, bringing the total to $1 million. But the real salvation came in the form of 2 lawyers in town who lived next door to the farm. David and Sharon Neuhardt agreed to buy the whole farm for conservation, using a combination of their own money, the town’s money, and a bank loan. In exchange for the $1 million from the town, the Neuhardt’s agreed to give up development rights to the property. They plan to resell about 60% of the land to farmers, and lease some of the remainder for farming and other non-developmental uses.
That 930 acres could have turned into any number of residential and retail sprawl projects. But thanks for cooperation between a town and private landowners, the Whitehall Farm remains open space in Yellow Springs.