WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — The Washington County Department of Planning and Zoning continues to prevent potential developers from building on certain rural land.

This year, Washington County was awarded RLP grants totaling $2,301,545, according to county documents. The year before that, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources gave the county nearly 1.4 million dollars for the rural legacy program. Recently, the county approved the Robert H. Harbaugh, Jr. and Doris L. Harbaugh RLP Easement project. The property is in an area close to thousands of acres of preserved farmland near Antietam National Battlefield. This project is an addition to the 7,000 acres which already serve as a current block of protected lands.

The department’s deputy director, Jill Baker, said the county is expected to grow from here on out.

“We want growth where growth should be, where we have the infrastructure available, water, roads, schools things like that and to limit as much as we can develop in the rural areas so that we are using the taxpayers’ dollars as efficiently as we possibly can,” Baker said.

As of right now, Baker said the longterm goal of the RLA program is to preserve at least 50,000 acres. The Rural Legacy Easement will “serve to permanently preserve a valuable scenic, environmental, agricultural and historic property in the County.”