[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Middleborough 10-2-2017 STM by Art. 30, AG 1-18-2018, eff. 2-15-2018. 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, Paragraph 1; MGL c. 90, § 9, MGL c. 111, § 125A, and MGL c. 128, § 1A. We the citizens of Middleborough 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 Middleborough by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and Town 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 parcels of land, or water bodies used for the primary purpose of commercial agriculture, or accessory thereto.
- A. Includes, but shall not be limited to, the following:
- (1) Farming in all its branches and the cultivation and tillage of the soil;
- (2) Dairying;
- (3) Production, cultivation, growing, and harvesting of any agricultural, aquacultural, floricultural, viticultural, or horticultural commodities;
- (4) Growing and harvesting of forest products upon forest land, and any other forestry or lumbering operations;
- (5) Raising of livestock, including horses;
- (6) Keeping of horses as a commercial enterprise; and
- (7) Keeping and raising of poultry, swine, cattle, ratites (such as emus, ostriches, and rheas) and camelides (such as llamas and camels), and other domesticated animals for food and other agricultural purposes, including bees and fur-bearing animals.
- B. "Farming" shall encompass activities including, but not limited to, the following:
- (1) Operation and transportation of slow-moving farm equipment over roads within the Town;
- (2) Control of pests, including, but not limited to, insects, weeds, predators, and disease organisms of plants and animals;
- (3) Application of manure, fertilizers and pesticides;
- (4) Conducting agriculture-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;
- (5) Processing and packaging of the agricultural output of the farm and the operation of a farmer's market or farm stand, including signage thereto;
- (6) 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
- (7) 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 Middleborough. The above-described agricultural 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 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 bylaw shall be deemed as acquiring any interest in land, or as imposing any land use regulation, which is properly the subject of the state statutes, regulation, or local zoning law.
Within 30 days after this bylaw becomes effective, the Board of Selectmen shall prominently post in the Town Hall and make available for distribution the following disclosure:
"It is the policy of this community to conserve, protect, and encourage the maintenance and improvement of agricultural land for the production of food, and 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 cause noise, dust, and odors. Buyers or occupants are also informed that the location of property within the Town may be impacted by commercial agricultural operations, including the ability to access water services for such property under certain circumstances."
In addition to the above, copies of this disclosure notification shall be available in a public area at the Town Hall, Town Clerk, and posted in the Middleborough Public Library.
Any person who seeks to complain about the operation of a farm may, notwithstanding pursuing any other available remedy, file a grievance with the Select Board, the Zoning Enforcement Officer, or the Board of Health, depending upon 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 Zoning Enforcement Officer or Select Board 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 referring Town authority within an agreed-upon time frame.
The Board of Health, except in cases 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 this bylaw. The Town of Middleborough hereby declares the provisions of this bylaw to be severable.