[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of Lunenburg 5-3-2014 ATM by Art. 28. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose and Intent of this bylaw is to state with emphasis the right to farm accorded to all citizens of the commonwealth under Article 97, of the Constitution, and all state statutes and regulations thereunder, including but not limited to MGL c. 40A, § 3, Para. 1; MGL c. 90, § 9; MGL c. 111, § 125A, and MGL c. 128, § 1A. We, the citizens of Lunenburg, restate and republish these rights pursuant to the Town's authority conferred by Article 89 of the Articles of Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution ("Home Rule Amendment"). This general bylaw encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands within the Town of Lunenburg by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and local agencies. This bylaw shall apply to all jurisdictional areas within the Town.
As used in this bylaw, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Includes any parcel or contiguous parcel of land, or water bodies used for the primary purpose of agriculture, or accessory thereto.
- Shall encompass activities including, but not limited to, the following:
- A. Operation and transportation of slow-moving farm equipment over roads within the Town;
- B. Control of pests, including, but not limited to, insects, weeds, predators and disease organisms of plants and animals;
- C. Application of manure, fertilizers and pesticides;
- D. Conducting agricultural related educational and farm-based recreational activities, including agritourism, provided that the activities are related to marketing the agricultural output or services of the farm;
- E. Processing and packaging of the agricultural output of the farm and the operations of a farmer's market or farm stand, including signage thereto;
- F. 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 the agricultural products; and
- G. On-farm relocation of earth and the clearing of ground for farming operations.
- FARMING OR AGRICULTURE OR THEIR DERIVATIVES
- Include, but not limited to, the following:
- A. Farming in all its branches and the cultivation and tillage of the soil.
- B. Dairying.
- C. Production, cultivation, growing and harvesting of any agricultural, aquacultural, floricultural, viticultural or horticultural commodities.
- D. Growing and harvesting of forest products upon forest land and any other forestry or lumbering operations.
- E. Keeping and raising of livestock, horses, poultry, swine, cattle, sheep ratites (such as emus, ostriches, rheas) and camelids (such as llamas and camels) and other domesticated animals for food and other agricultural purposes, including bees and fur-bearing animals.
The right to farm is hereby recognized to exist within the Town of Lunenburg. The above-described agricultural activities may occur on holidays, weekdays and weekends by night or day and shall include the incidental noise, odors, dust and fumes associated with normally accepted agricultural practices. It is hereby determined that whatever impact may be caused to others through the normal practice of agriculture is more than offset by the benefits of farming to the neighborhood, community and society in general. The benefits and protections of this bylaw are intended to apply exclusively to those commercial agricultural and farming operations and activities conducted in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices. Moreover, nothing in this Right-to-Farm Bylaw shall be deemed as acquiring any interest in land, or as imposing any land use regulation, which is properly the subject of state statute, regulation or local zoning law.
In order to ensure that prospective owners and prospective tenants are aware of the policy of the Town of Lunenburg expressed in this bylaw regarding agricultural uses and practices, the following notification of this policy shall be prominently posted in the Town Hall within 30 days of this bylaw becoming effective. Copies will also be made available for distribution. "This notification is to inform persons and entities who are about to acquire or lease rental property within the Town of Lunenburg that it is the policy of the Town of Lunenburg to conserve, protect and encourage the maintenance and improvement of the agricultural land, for the production of food and other agricultural products and for the preservation of its natural and ecological value. This notification is to further inform such owners and entities that farming activities, including the raising and keeping of livestock, take place in the Town of Lunenburg and that such activities may cause or create noise, dust and odors which adversely impact or are incompatible with the use or enjoyment of the property within the Town, including the property about to be acquired or leased."
Property owners should make efforts to inform prospective tenants or buyers that Lunenburg is a right-to-farm community. In addition, the notification language required by this section shall appear annually in the Town's Annual Report.
Any person who seeks to complain about the operation of a farm may, notwithstanding pursing any other available remedy, file a grievance with the Select Board, the Building Commissioner, or the Board of Health, depending on the nature of the grievance. The filing of the grievance does not suspend the time within which to pursue any other available remedies that the aggrieved may have. The Building Commissioner or Select Board shall forward a copy of the grievance to the Agricultural Commission or its agent, which shall review and facilitate the resolution of the grievance, and report its recommendations to the referring Town authority within an agreed-upon time frame. The Board of Health, except in case of imminent danger or public health risk, may forward a copy of the grievance to the Agricultural Commission or its agent, which shall review and facilitate the resolution of the grievance, and report its recommendations to the Board of Health within an agreed-upon time frame.
If any part of this bylaw is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, such decision shall not affect the remainder of the bylaw. The Town of Lunenburg hereby declares the provisions of this bylaw to be severable.