Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve (Aerial Video Included)

Courtesy of Montgomery Planning: Montgomery County is home to a surprising number of rural areas. The forward-thinking 1964 General Plan focused growth in defined corridors emanating from the population centers in and around the Capital Beltway. Between those corridors, the General Plan called for wedges of low-density residential uses, open space and protected farmland. The rural areas encompass the 93,000 acre Agricultural Reserve along with the larger rural communities of Damascus and Poolesville; small crossroad communities such as Beallsville, Sunshine and Dickerson; and areas with mixed open land and housing. Aerial video available below:

@themocoshow Aerial view of Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. One-third of Montgomery County, or 93,000 acres, is designated as the Agricultural Reserve. #AgReserve #MoCo #AgriculturalReserve ♬ Way down We Go – KALEO

The Agricultural Reserve

In 1980, the Montgomery County Council made one of the most significant land-use decisions in county history by creating what we call the Agricultural Reserve. Heralded as one of the best examples of land conservation policies in the country, the Agricultural Reserve encompasses 93,000 acres – almost a third of the county’s land resources – along the county’s northern, western, and eastern borders.

The Agricultural Reserve and its accompanying Master Plan and zoning elements were designed to protect farmland and agriculture. Along with a sustained commitment to agriculture through the county’s Office of Agriculture, the combination of tools helps retain more than 500 farms that contribute millions of dollars to Montgomery County’s annual economy. This is a notable achievement in an area so close to the nation’s capital, where development pressure remains perpetual and intense.

Building Lot Termination (BLT) Program

Established by law in 2008, the Building Lot Termination Program (BLT) is a farmland preservation tool. A BLT easement restricts residential, commercial, industrial and other non-agricultural uses on a given property. The primary purpose of a BLT easement is to preserve agricultural land by reducing the fragmentation of farmland resulting from residential development.

Creating a BLT easement can provide additional compensation to a landowner who can demonstrate that his or her land is capable of residential development and agrees to forgo that development and terminate the approved waste disposal system associated with the lot.

Learn more about the Building Lot Termination Program.

How Can Residents Enjoy the Agricultural Reserve?

Although primarily a working agricultural landscape, the Agricultural Reserve offers county residents a plethora of activities. Check out the Reserve’s many opportunities — pick-your-own fruit farms, a winery, bike routes and pastoral scenic vistas — in a resource guide and map(opens in a new tab), produced in collaboration with the Montgomery Countryside Alliance(opens in a new tab). Beyond that, the Reserve represents a historic landscape as well as a resource that protects our public water supply and provides access to green open spaces.

For more information on agricultural preservation programs, farmers markets, and the Cooperative Extension Service, visit Montgomery County’s Office of Agriculture(opens in a new tab).

How does the Agricultural Reserve protect farmland?

In 1980, after determining that there was a critical need to protect productive farmland in Montgomery County, the County Council and Planning Board adopted a Master Planaccompanied by a series of land use regulations and incentives designed to minimize inappropriate development, avoid the fragmentation of farmland by subdivision, strengthen agriculture and channel growth to down- county growth areas through rezoning with a transfer of development rights program.

The Master Plan was one of the first comprehensive plans for preservation of agriculture and rural open space that was linked to an established countywide growth management program.  Its primary tools include:

  • Agricultural Reserve (AR)
    A zoning district created for the primary agricultural preservation areas within the Agricultural Reserve, with agriculture and related activities as its preferred uses. Residential development is limited to no more than one dwelling unit per 25 acres, although individual lots can be as small as one acre.
  • Rural Zone and Rural Cluster Zone (R and RC)
    The two other primary zoning districts within the Agricultural Reserve, the rural and rural cluster zones, are used in areas featuring a mix of farmland, open space and low-density housing. Residential development is limited to no more than one dwelling unit per 5 acres. In the rural cluster zone, individual lots can be as small as one acre.
  • Transfer of Development Rights (TDR)
    This is the primary mechanism to provide equity compensation to landowners in the RDT zone. TDR transfers residential development potential from the farmland preservation areas of the Agricultural Reserve into areas designated as better suited for growth.

Also see the Preservation of Agriculture & Rural Open Space master plan.


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Karen joined the Well-Paid Maids team as a cleaner in January 2021, and she was recently promoted to an operations manager! This well-deserved promotion is part of Well-Paid Maids' effort to deliver better customer service with responses to phone calls and emails seven days a week. To celebrate Karen's promotion, we caught up with her to learn more about her time at Well-Paid Maids, the area's only certified living-wage cleaning company.

 1. Why Well-Paid Maids?

Karen: I saw the company was paying a living wage and had great benefits. Also, they were very flexible with my schedule, especially since I have kids.

 2. How has it been working at Well-Paid Maids?

Karen: I feel very appreciated at the company. This is the first job where I feel I'm able to speak about any issue and that management will support me.

 3. How has working at Well-Paid Maids benefitted you?

Karen: Because Well-Paid Maids pays a living wage, I can now spend more time with my kids and not work double shifts like I did at my old job.

 4. How do you plan to spend your PTO this year?

Karen: I look forward to traveling to El Salvador to visit my family there.

 5. How would you describe Well-Paid Maids as an employer in three words?

Appreciated, valued and opportunity

Submit your own Announcement here.

Washington City Paper is hosting its annual Best of D.C. contest -- and Well-Paid Maids is eyeing the Best Maid Service category. If you missed it: Well-Paid Maids has secured first place for the past three years. Can you help us snag gold again? Simply go to the ballot and write in your vote for the best maid service. In case you need a refresher before you vote, Well-Paid Maids is the only certified living-wage cleaning company in the D.C. area. We pay our cleaners, who are W-2 employees, at least $24 an hour and offer benefits like insurance, 24 paid days off per year and more. Voting is open until June 10 at 5 p.m., and the winner will be announced July 18. (We'll keep you posted!) Thank you for your support -- and if you still haven't booked a spring cleaning yet, now is the time!

Submit your own Announcement here.

Movie being filmed in McLean, VA, needs your support

A local community movie is filming in our area in June and needs contributions!

Local actors, teens, teachers, housewives, and retired residences are trying to make this film happen but we need your help.

This is an educational short story about teens learning how to navigate when they don't feel accepted by their friends and what to do to find acceptance. Yet this film isn't just for teens. In your life have you ever felt like you weren't accepted??

Come be a part of the audience for this film! Invite your friends. Be a part of this film being produced right here in our area.

This is a social impact film that will show locally and internationally at film festivals in 2025 and also at colleges.

More information can be found here. DONATE TODAY:

This is a not-for-profit film and donations are tax-deductible.

Free Community Father-Daughter Dance

Fathers and father figures, create unforgettable memories with your daughter at our free community father-daughter dance on June 1st, from 6-8 pm. Hosted outdoors at Olney Baptist Church. This event offers a delightful outdoor experience complete with a DJ spinning tunes, interactive games, a charming photo booth, delicious treats, and exciting raffle prizes. Fathers/father figures and daughters of all ages are warmly welcomed to share in this special evening together. Join us for an evening of joy, laughter, and cherished moments!

In the spirit of giving back to our community, we are partnering with Quest to Feed Montgomery to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those in need. We kindly ask each attendee to bring along a non-perishable food item to donate during the event. Every contribution, no matter how small, will go a long way in supporting families facing food insecurity in our area.


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