[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Ipswich 10-19-2009 STM, approved by Attorney General 2-16-2010 (Ch. XIX (second) of the 1973 Bylaws). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Wetlands protection — See Ch. 224.
Note: With the disapproval by the AG of the following statement: "The Tax Collector shall include a copy of the disclosure notification form with all responses to requests for Municipal Lien Certificates."
Agricultural production is a major contributor to the Town's economy. Agricultural lands constitute continuation of existing and the initiation of new agricultural activities preserve the landscape and environmental resources of Ipswich, contribute to the increase of tourism, and further the economic welfare and self-sufficiency of the people of Ipswich.
The purpose and intent of this bylaw is to state with emphasis the right to farm accorded to all citizens of the Commonwealth under amendment Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution and all applicable statutes and regulations of the Commonwealth, including but not limited to MGL c. 40A, § 3; MGL c. 90, § 9; MGL c. 111, § 125A; and MGL c. 128, § 1A.
This bylaw encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands within the Town by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and Town boards and commissions.
"Farming" or "agriculture" or their derivatives shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
Farming in all its branches and the cultivation and tillage of the soil;
Production, cultivation, growing, and harvesting of any agricultural, aquacultural, floricultural, viticultural, or horticultural commodities;
Growing and harvesting of forest products upon forest land, and any other forestry or lumbering operations;
Raising of livestock including horses;
Keeping of horses; and
Keeping and raising of poultry, cattle, swine, ratites (such as emus, ostriches and rheas) and camelids (such as llamas and camels), phasianids (such as pheasants and peafowl), and other domesticated animals for food and other agricultural purposes, including bees and fur-bearing animals.
Farming activities include, but are not limited to, the following:
Operation and transportation of slow-moving farm equipment over roads within the Town;
Control of pests, including, but not limited to, insects, weeds, predators and disease organisms of plants and animals; application of manure, fertilizers and pesticides;
Conducting agriculture-related educational and farm-based recreational activities, including agri-tourism, provided that the activities are related to marketing the agricultural output or services of the farm;
Processing and packaging of the agricultural output of the farm and the operation of a farmer's market or farm stand including signage thereto;
Maintenance, repair, or storage of seasonal equipment, or apparatus owned or leased by the farm owner or manager used expressly for the purpose of propagation, processing, management, or sale of agricultural products;
On-site production of fuel or power from agricultural products or wastes principally produced on the farm; and
On-farm relocation of earth and the clearing of ground for farming operations.
The right to farm is hereby recognized to exist within the Town of Ipswich. The above-described activities may occur on holidays, weekdays, and weekends by night or day and shall include the attendant incidental noise, odors, dust, and fumes associated with generally accepted agricultural practices. The benefits and protections of this bylaw are intended to apply to those agricultural and farming operations and activities conducted in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices. (Generally accepted agricultural practices include, but are not limited to, best management practices. Guidance on current best management practices can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Massachusetts Farm Bureau, the University of Massachusetts Extension program, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, or from other recognized agricultural institutions.) Moreover, nothing in this bylaw shall be deemed as acquiring any interest in land. The protections contained in this bylaw do not impose or preempt any land use or other restrictions associated with agricultural operations, which are properly the subject of state statute, regulation, zoning, or other local bylaws, including the Ipswich Wetlands Protective Bylaw.
In order to allow prospective purchasers to make informed decisions prior to a real estate transaction and to promote harmony between farmers and their new neighbors after a transaction, the Town of Ipswich requests that selling landholders and/or their agents and assigns provide written notice to prospective purchasers substantially as follows:
"It is the policy of Ipswich to conserve, protect and encourage the maintenance and improvement of agricultural land for the production of food, or other agricultural products, and also for its natural and ecological value. This disclosure notification is to inform buyers or occupants that the property they are about to acquire or occupy lies within a town where farming activities occur. Such farming activities may include, but are not limited to, activities that may cause noise, dust or odors. Purchasing, and henceforth occupying land within Ipswich means that one should expect and accept such conditions as a norm and necessary aspect of living in Ipswich."
Written notification may occur in one of several ways, including, but not limited to, a disclosure form or an addendum to a Purchase and Sale Agreement, and should include an acknowledgment by the buyer that they have received notification.
Within 30 days after this bylaw becomes effective, the following shall occur:
The Town, through the Offices of the Town Manager and Town Clerk, shall make available for use by selling landowners and/or their agents and as, copies of sample written notifications, including a disclosure notification form.
The Town shall prominently place the above-stated policy disclosure in one or more locations in Town Hall.
To enhance the prompt resolution of disputes that may arise between those engaged in the agricultural uses protected under this Bylaw and those who claim that the use or enjoyment of their properties is adversely affected by such uses, the following dispute resolution procedure is established as a means by which owners and tenants may attempt to resolve the dispute in a prompt, effective, and amicable manner.
Any person who wishes to complain that the operation of a farm is creating a substantial adverse effect on health, safety, or welfare, or is creating a noxious and significant interference with the use or enjoyment of their real property may, notwithstanding pursuance of any other available remedy, request resolution assistance from the Board of Selectmen, the Zoning Enforcement Officer, or the Board of Health, depending on the nature of the request. The filing of a request for resolution assistance does not suspend the time within which to pursue any other available remedies that the complainant may have. The Board of Selectmen, Zoning Enforcement Officer, or Board of Health shall forward a copy of the request to the Agricultural Commission, which shall review the request, and report its recommendations to the referring Town officials within an agreed upon time frame.
If any part of this bylaw is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, such determination shall not affect the remainder of this bylaw. The Town of Ipswich hereby declares the provisions of this bylaw to be severable.