Three years ago, John and Marilyn Saveson decided to turn 33 acres of their New Albany, Ohio, farm into a federally protected wetland to provide a permanent refuge for wildlife. The couple lives in a fast-developing area around the outskirts of Columbus and didn't want to see more suburbs and concrete smothering the land. But now, because of their ecological sensitivity, the elderly couple is facing a possible property tax bill totaling $56,119.
Spencer Hunt, a Columbus Dispatch writer, reported Dec. 26 that the Franklin County auditor's office says the land no longer qualifies for a farmland property-tax break as it once did. Since 1995, the state tax department has allowed land enrolled in the wetlands program to remain agricultural for tax purposes. In 2010, though, it began questioning whether farmland converted to wetlands should be taxed as agricultural because crops no longer are grown there, said an agency spokesman.