(a)(1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.
(2) “Agreement” means an agreement made under subsection (c) of this section.
(3) “Program” means the forest conservation and management program.
Establishment of program
(b) The Department of Natural Resources shall establish the program to:
(1) encourage the preservation or development of land for productive woodland purposes;
(2) increase the income of persons in the State from the sale of timber;
(3) prevent flooding of land and the loss of the State's soil;
(4) provide wooded areas for the use and enjoyment of all individuals in the State; and
(5) promote the welfare and assets of the State.
Agreement to place land in the program
(c) The owner of at least 5 contiguous acres of land may make an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources to place the land in the program.
Recording of the memorandum of the agreement
(d) A memorandum of the agreement shall be recorded in each county where the land is located under §§ 3-102 and 3-103 of the Real Property Article. The woodland owner shall pay for recording the memorandum.
(e)(1) The owner of land that is subject to an agreement shall promptly notify:
(i) the supervisor of the county where the land is located that the land is subject to an agreement;
(ii) before a sale or transfer, a prospective buyer or transferee that the land is subject to an agreement; and
(iii) within 30 days of a sale or transfer, the Department of Natural Resources.
(2) The requirements applicable to an owner under paragraph (1) of this subsection shall apply to:
(i) a successor, heir, or assign of the owner; and
(ii) as applicable, the personal representative of the owner's estate.
Length of agreement
(f)(1) Except for an agreement made on or before July 1, 1984, an agreement shall be for at least 15 years.
(2) Consecutive agreements shall be deemed a single agreement from the date of the original agreement.
Assignment or transfer of agreement to a buyer
(g) An agreement may be assigned and transferred to a buyer of all or part of the land that is subject to the agreement, if:
(1) the buyer assumes the obligation of the agreement;
(2) the agreement is transferred to the buyer by the landowner or the landowner's successors, heirs, or assigns; and
(3) property tax on an assessment under subsection (i) of this section is not due.
Value of woodland for assessment, generally
(h) Except as provided in subsection (i) of this section, the value of woodland for assessment purposes in effect at the beginning of an agreement may not be increased for the period covered by the agreement.
Reassessment of woodland
(i)(1) Woodland shall be reassessed when:
(i) an agreement ends and is not renewed as provided in subsection (f)(2) of this section;
(ii) timber is harvested, unless harvested according to the plan approved by the Department of Natural Resources;
(iii) land subject to an agreement is conveyed to a new owner except as provided in subsection (g) of this section; or
(iv) an agreement is ended by the Department of Natural Resources at the request of the owner or because the owner has not complied with the agreement.
(2) If only part of the land subject to an agreement is conveyed or only part of the timber is harvested, the reassessment shall be only for the part of land conveyed or the part of land on which the timber is harvested.
Difference between original assessment and reassessment
(j) If the assessment under subsection (i)(1)(ii) through (iv) of this section is greater than the value used to determine the assessment under subsection (h) of this section, the difference between the 2 valuations is computed in approximately equal annual steps that cover the number of taxable years between the 2 valuations, and the agreement holder owes property tax for each taxable year payable at the property tax rates applicable for each taxable year.
50 or more contiguous acres; subdivision
(k)(1) Subject to the provisions of this subsection and any pertinent local laws, a woodland owner who has 50 or more contiguous acres subject to an agreement may subdivide the property and transfer to a child of the owner a building lot for the purposes of constructing a dwelling unit on the lot without liability for prior taxable years under subsection (j) of this section.
(2) A building lot transferred under this subsection may not exceed:
(i) 1 acre; or
(ii) if local law or regulations adopted by the Department of the Environment require that the minimum size of a building lot exceed 1 acre, the minimum size required under local law or regulations adopted by the Department of the Environment.
(3) A woodland owner may not transfer under this subsection more than one building lot for every 10 acres subject to the agreement or more than one building lot to each child of the owner.
(4)(i) A woodland owner shall apply to the Department of Natural Resources for a modification of an agreement under this subsection.
(ii) On approval by the Department of Natural Resources, the woodland owner shall notify the supervisor of the county where the land is located.
(iii) The supervisor shall reassess that portion of the property removed from the program and establish the property as a separate account in the assessment records of the county.
(5) A modification of an agreement under this subsection shall be recorded in each county where the building lot is located under §§ 3-102 and 3-103 of the Real Property Article. The woodland owner shall pay for recording the modification.
(6) A modification of an agreement under this subsection is not subject to a penalty under subsection (l) of this section.
Penalty if agreement is terminated for noncompliance or at the request of the owner
(l) An agreement holder shall pay the Department of Natural Resources a penalty of $100 if an agreement is terminated as a result of noncompliance or at the request of the owner.
Land removed by eminent domain or other involuntary proceeding
(m)(1) Land that is removed from an agreement by eminent domain or other involuntary proceeding is not subject to:
(i) reassessment under subsection (i) of this section; or
(ii) penalty under subsection (l) of this section.
(2) If only part of the land subject to an agreement is removed by eminent domain or other involuntary procedure the supervisor shall:
(i) apportion the assessment and enter the removed part as a separate assessment on the tax roll; and
(ii) adjust the assessment of the land that remains under the agreement to reflect the change.
Applicability with other benefits
(n) This section does not affect any benefit charge or other special charge that applies to woodland.
Applicability to improvements, agriculture, mineral, or other nonforest values
(o) This section does not apply to the valuation or assessment of improvements or agricultural, mineral, or other nonforest values on land that is subject to an agreement.
(p) The Department of Natural Resources may set reasonable fees for the development of management plans, original agreements, and conducting inspections. The fees shall be designed to cover the administrative costs of conducting the program.
Added by Acts 1985, c. 8, § 2, eff. Feb. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1986, c. 171; Acts 1987, c. 11, § 1; Acts 1988, c. 179; Acts 1989, c. 5, § 1; Acts 1994, c. 435, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 1994; Acts 2000, c. 80, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 2000; Acts 2002, c. 199, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 2002.