Given the beauty of the landscape, laced with coves, rivers, bays, estuaries, and other watery features, and punctuated with hills, woodlands, and productive farmland, it's not surprising that there are many "come here's" in Talbot County. Planning director George Kinney notes that many of the properties were second homes (with Linda quickly adding, "or third").
Despite this, the county has focused much attention on farmland preservation. Given the extensive number of waterways in the county, and the fact that Maryland strictly regulates development within a "critical area" of 1,000 feet of them, this has worked to help prevent much farmland from being put to other use.
The county's zoning also generally allows just 1 dwelling unit per 20 acres in agricultural zones, another big plus in maintaining the agricultural base (though there's some controversy brewing over the planning commission's effort to tighten the land subdivision rules a bit more).
Another "tool" -- so to speak -- that helps support agricultural zoning is the difficult legal hurdles in Maryland facing any effort to rezone land, absent a comprehensive rezoning, or a mistake in the intial zoning.
And there's also active easement acquisition programs in Talbot County (both through donation, with its tax benefits, and also by purchase in some cases), as in most of the state of Maryland. The result, as George told me, is that about 23 percent of the land in the county is permanently protected.
During my tour of Talbot County with Linda and George, what struck me most was the compact pattern of town and village settlements -- and the feeling of continuity and history. Take the Town of Oxford, where we ferried over from the Village of Bellevue (courtesy of Captain Tom Bixler). Yes, there are McMansions out there, but there's also the Cutts & Case ship building shop and streets lined with modest sized dwellings.
Oxford's also the home of a small private library, where I ran into Pam Baker tending the yard. Pam's a member of the town's planning commission.
So there's a mix of compact villages, lush countryside, farmland, and -- let's not forget -- some well-tended, historic estates (as this one at the end of a long tree-lined lane in the southeastern part of the county)
And then there's the historic town of St. Michael's, which I'll touch on in a separate posting about my overnight hosts (and I don't even have room to talk about Easton -- my apologies!).