Ann Arbor Area Community News
Washtenaw County has released its annual “tentative ratios” report, as an estimate of increases in real estate value in local cities and townships. Agricultural land in the eastern half of the county saw impressive increases:
n many areas of the county, residential property posted smaller increases in value compared with the previous year’s gains. But agricultural land values in the townships of Ann Arbor, Lodi, Pittsfield, Salem, Saline, Superior and York rose by double-digit figures. The townships with the biggest gains in agricultural land values were Salem with 24 percent and Superior with 21 percent.
Rising property values on agricultural land cause increased property taxes (though, due to 1994’s Amendment A, taxable value increases are much much lower than the 20-some percent increases in value), squeezing farmers—since most of the increase in value is speculative, and based on the land’s developable value, rather than on any increase in farm profitability, rising values pressure farmers to sell to developers.
Ann Arbor’s Greenbelt plan, which involves buying development rights from farmers, is meant to reduce the appeal of selling farmland by slashing taxable value. Most of the targeted area for the Greenbelt plan is within the fastest-appreciating Townships. Ann Arbor’s Greenbelt Commission has been criticized for “slow” progress, largely based on the rate at which values are rising.
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