[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Montour 5-8-2012 by L.L. No. 2-2012. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Zoning — See Ch. 175.
The Town of Montour recognizes farming is an essential enterprise and an important industry, which enhances the economic base, protects the natural environment and quality of life, and demands minimal public services in the Town of Montour. The Town Board further declares that it shall be the policy of the Town of Montour to encourage agriculture and foster understanding by all residents of the necessary day-to-day operations involved in farming so as to encourage cooperation with those practices.
It is the general purpose and intent of this chapter to maintain and preserve the rural traditions and character of the Town of Montour, to permit the continuation of agricultural practices, to protect the existence and operation of farms, to encourage the initiation and expansion of farms and agri-businesses, and to promote new ways to resolve disputes concerning agricultural practices and farm operations. In order to maintain a viable farming economy in Schuyler County, it is necessary to limit the circumstances under which farming may be deemed to be nuisance and to allow agricultural practices inherent to and necessary for the business of farming to proceed and be undertaken free of unreasonable and unwarranted interference or restriction.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES
- Those practices necessary for the on-farm production, preparation and marketing of agricultural commodities. Examples of such practices include, but are not limited to, operation of farm equipment, proper use of agricultural chemicals and other crop production methods, composting, and construction and use of farm structures.
- AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS
- Those products as defined in § 301(2) of Article 25AA of the State Agriculture and Markets Law, including, but not limited to:
- A. Field crops, including corn, wheat, rye, barley, hay, potatoes and dry beans.
- B. Fruits, including apples, peaches, grapes, cherries and berries.
- C. Vegetables, including tomatoes, snap beans, cabbage, carrots, beets and onions.
- D. Horticultural specialties, including nursery stock, ornamental shrubs, ornamental trees and flowers.
- E. Livestock and livestock products, including cattle, sheep, hogs, goats, horses, poultry, llamas, ratites, such as ostriches, emus, rheas and kiwis, farmed deer, farmed buffalo, fur-bearing animals, milk and milk products, eggs, furs, and poultry products.
- F. Maple sap, maple syrup and maple products, honey and apiary products.
- G. Christmas trees derived from a managed Christmas tree operation whether dug for transplanting or cut from the stump.
- H. Aquaculture products, including fish, fish products, water plants and shellfish.
- I. Short rotation woody crops raised for bioenergy.
- J. Production and sale of woodland products managed in accordance with a current, written management plan prepared by a professional forester. Woodland products include, but are not limited to, saw logs, lumber, posts and firewood.
- Any person, organization, entity, association, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation engaged in the business of agriculture, whether for profit or otherwise, including the cultivation of land, the raising of crops, or the raising of livestock.
- Land used in agricultural production, as defined in Subdivision 4 of § 301 of Article 25AA of the State Agriculture and Markets Law.
- FARM OPERATION
- As defined in § 301(11) in the State Agriculture and Markets Law.
Farmers, as well as those employed, retained, or otherwise authorized to act on behalf of farmers, may lawfully engage in agricultural practices within the Town of Montour at all times and all such locations as are reasonably necessary to conduct the business of agriculture. For any agricultural practice, in determining the reasonableness of the time, place, and methodology of such practice, due weight and consideration shall be given to both traditional customs and procedures in the farming industry as well as to advances resulting from increased knowledge, research and improved technologies.
Agricultural practices conducted on farmland shall not be found to be a public or private nuisance if such agricultural practices are:
Reasonable and necessary to the particular farm or farm operation;
Conducted in a manner which is not negligent or reckless;
Conducted in conformity with generally accepted and sound agricultural and forestry practices;
Conducted in conformity with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations;
Conducted in a manner which does not constitute a threat to public health and safety or cause injury to health or safety of any person; and
Conducted in a manner which does not reasonably obstruct the free passage or use of navigable waters or public roadways.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit an aggrieved party from recovering damages for bodily injury or wrongful death due to a failure to follow sound agricultural practices, as outlined in this section.
In order to promote harmony between farmers and their neighbors, the Town of Montour requires landholders and/or their agents and assigns to comply with § 310 of Article 25-AA of the State Agriculture and Markets Law and provide notice to prospective purchasers and occupants as follows:
"It is the policy of this state and this community to conserve, protect and encourage the development and improvement of agricultural land for the production of food, and other products, and also for its natural and ecological value. This disclosure notice is to inform prospective residents that the property they are about to acquire may lay partially or wholly within an agricultural district and that farming activities occur within the district. Such farming activities may include, but not be limited to, activities that cause noise, dust and odors."
Such disclosure notice shall be signed by the prospective grantor and grantee prior to the sale, purchase or exchange of such real property. Receipt of such disclosure notice shall be recorded on a property transfer report form prescribed by the State Board of Real Property Services as provided for in § 333 of the Real Property Law.
Should any dispute arise regarding any agricultural operation, which cannot be settled by direct negotiation between the parties involved, the parties may by mutual agreement submit the matter to the Schuyler County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board as a request for mediation, to attempt a resolution of the matter prior to, or alternatively to the filing of any court action.
The Chairperson of the Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board shall, within five working days of receipt of a dispute, notify the Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board of the nature of the dispute. The Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board shall provide adequate time for the exchange of pertinent facts leading to resolution of the dispute, at the next scheduled Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board meeting or special meeting held at the earliest time convenient to the Board and to the parties seeking a resolution of their dispute.
The effectiveness of the mediation program offered by the Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board is dependent upon direct, full, frank conversations and presentation of all pertinent facts concerning the dispute. The parties are encouraged in the exchange of information concerning the controversy, and each party shall have an opportunity to present what each considers the pertinent facts. The resolution of disputes is dependent upon full discussion and complete presentation of all pertinent facts concerning the dispute in order to eliminate any misunderstandings. Inasmuch as mediation dispenses with formal rules of procedure and rules of evidence, direct participation by the disputants, without the intervention of counsel is strongly encouraged; but the right of any party to representation, at his or her option and expense, shall not be impaired. Any party electing to have counsel at the mediation shall notify the Board and the other party at least seven days prior to the mediation. Participation in mediation is a matter in the discretion of each party, and no party shall be compelled to participate in mediation when he or she has elected not to have counsel and the opposite party is represented by counsel.
To encourage the use of voluntary, local mediation, the parties requesting mediation shall stipulate, in writing, that the statements made in mediation shall be deemed to be in the nature of settlement discussions, and that such statements, and any agreement reached in mediation shall not be used for evidentiary purposes in any other action or proceeding.
In the event that the Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board is unable to satisfactorily assist all parties in a reasonable period of time, the Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board may meet in a regular or special meeting within 20 days to provide an advisory opinion regarding the dispute under discussion.
This chapter and its provisions are in addition to all other applicable laws, rules and regulations.