15.15.08.04

.04 Grant to Eligible County.

A. A county is an eligible county for purposes of this chapter upon the Foundation's approval and after submission by the county to the Foundation of:

(1) The IPA form to be used by the county to purchase easements pursuant to a Foundation offer, which installment purchase agreement shall meet the requirements of Agriculture Article, §2-510.1(b), Annotated Code of Maryland, and otherwise be acceptable to the Foundation;

(2) The opinion of bond counsel form that states that the IPA is legal, valid and binding, and that interest paid under the IPA is exempt from federal and Maryland state and local income taxes, in form and substance satisfactory to the Foundation; and

(3) An ordinance, resolution, or other evidence of approval acceptable to the Foundation authorizing the issuance of the IPA by the county.

B. The terms of an eligible county's IPA program are governed by an MOU that states the duties and obligations between the Foundation and an eligible county and shall:

(1) Require the county to make annual equal payments to the landowner of interest on the outstanding balance of the purchase price;

(2) Require that the county pay the landowner the remainder of the purchase price at the end of the term;

(3) State the total amount of money the county will pay the landowner, the interest rate, and the terms of the agreement; and

(4) Require that the easement be recorded within 30 days of settlement.

C. If a landowner elects to sell an easement through an IPA with an eligible county, the Foundation shall, before escrow closing on the easement, ask the State Treasurer to provide funds for the Foundation's portion of the easement purchase price as a grant to the eligible county.

D. An easement acquired by an eligible county according to an IPA:

(1) Shall be held jointly by the eligible county and the Foundation; and

(2) May not terminate.

E. An eligible county may use a Foundation grant described in §C of this regulation to provide for the easement purchase price due under the IPA.

F. If the amount of the Foundation grant exceeds the amount needed by a county to settle the easement transaction, the remaining amount of the grant shall be used to extend offers to purchase additional easements within that county in ranking order as provided by Agriculture Article, §2-510, Annotated Code of Maryland. However if there are no additional approved applicants within that county, the remaining IPA grant funds shall be retained, along with any future fund allocation by the Foundation, for up to two subsequent easement cycles for the purpose of making IPA easement offers to applicants in that county. IPA grant funds not used within those three consecutive easement cycles will revert to the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Fund.

G. County IRA grant funds from the Foundation may only be used for farmland easement purchases, and may not be used to make offers through any local preservation program or to pay interest on an IPA.

H. An eligible county may not use a Foundation grant for an IPA in the Foundation's matching grant program pursuant to Agriculture Article, §2-512, Annotated Code of Maryland.