[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Fort Edward: Art. I, 9-14-1992 as L.L. No. 2-1992. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Right To Farm
[Adopted 9-14-1992 as L.L. No. 2-1992]
This Article shall be known as the "Right To Farm Law of the Town of Fort Edward."
It is the general purpose and intent of this Article to maintain and preserve the rural tradition and character of the Town of Fort Edward, to permit the continuation of the business of farming within the town and to protect the existence and operation of farming businesses, consistent with the declared policy of the State of New York in Article XIV of the State Constitution and further enumerated in Agriculture and Markets Law Article 25-AA and within this Article.
The Town Board finds, declares and determines that, in order to maintain agriculture as the town's and New York State's largest industry, farmers must be afforded protection allowing them the right to farm.
Since World War II, there has been a trend toward urban expansion into suburban and rural areas. Increased populations in rural areas often change the character of the community. Farming near other land uses may generate neighborhood conflicts. Generally accepted farming practices may aggravate those who do not understand agricultural methods. Neighbors may complain about odors, noise, dust, vibration and the presence of slow-moving vehicles. In some cases, residents may file a nuisance suit against agricultural practices.
It shall be the declared policy of the Town of Fort Edward to ensure farmers the right to conduct generally accepted farm practices in order to remain viably solvent.
In recognition of the fact that there are many practices and activities which are inherent to and necessary for the business of farming, it is the specific purpose and intent of this Article to attain the aforementioned goals and objectives by providing that such practices and activities may proceed and be undertaken free of unreasonable and unwarranted interference or restrictions. The Town Board further finds that the continued maintenance and growth of farming are essential elements in the economic stability of the Town of Fort Edward and so declares that agriculture is one of the preferred and dominant land uses. An additional purpose is to promote a good neighbor policy between agricultural and nonagricultural residents of the town and to encourage farmers to be considerate, responsible and careful with their practices so as to minimize the effect on others as much as possible.
It is the general purpose and intent of this Article to maintain and preserve the rural tradition and character of the Town of Fort Edward, to permit the continuation of the business of farming within the town, to protect the existence and operation of established farms and to encourage the initiation and expansion of farming businesses.
Currently, the Town of Fort Edward is located within the agricultural districts of Washington County and is committed to the continued practice of preserving as well as expanding agricultural districts and in general farming within the Town of Fort Edward, within or without agricultural districts.
Unless specifically defined below, words and phrases used in this Article shall be interpreted so as to give them the meanings they have in common usage and to give this Article its most reasonable application.
As used in this Article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any person, organization, entity, association, partnership or corporation engaged in the business of agriculture, whether for profit or otherwise, including but not limited to the cultivation of land; the raising of crops; the raising of livestock, poultry, fur-bearing animals or fish; the harvesting of timber; or the practicing of horticulture or apiculture.
- FARMING PRACTICES
- Any legal activity engaged in by a farmer in connection with the furtherance of the business of farming, including but not limited to the collection, transportation, distribution and storage of animal and plant wastes; the storage, transportation and use of equipment for tillage, planting and harvesting, the transportation, storage and use of legally permitted fertilizers and limes, insecticides, herbicides and pesticides in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions; and the construction of farm structures, fences and facilities as permitted by local and state building codes and regulations.
- FARM PRODUCTS
- Those plants and animals useful to human beings, including but not limited to forages and sod crops; gains and seed crops; dairy and dairy products; poultry and poultry products; livestock, including breeding and grazing; fruits; vegetables; flowers; seeds; grasses; trees; fish; apiaries; equine or other similar products; or any other products which incorporate the use of food, feed, fiber or fur.
- GENERALLY ACCEPTED AGRICULTURAL BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
- Those practices including but not limited to operation of farm equipment; production, processing and marketing of farm products; proper use of legal agricultural chemicals and other crop-protection methods; and construction and use of farm structures, including such structures used for agricultural labor, as defined by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets after consultation with and approval by the State Advisory Council on Agriculture. The Commissioner and the Council shall give due consideration to existing New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets information and written recommendations from the New York State College of Agriculture experiment station in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture Soil and Conservation Service and the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, the Department of Environmental Conservation and other professional and industry organizations. Such practices may be defined on a case-by-case basis.
- An individual, corporation, partnership, association or other legal entity.
- The Town of Fort Edward.
Farmers, as well as those employed by or otherwise authorized to act on behalf of farmers, may lawfully engage in farming practices within the Town of Fort Edward at any and all such times and at all such locations as are reasonably necessary to conduct the business of farming.
For any activity or operation, in determining the reasonableness of the time, place and methodology of such operation, 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 and improved technologies.
The Town of Fort Edward, County of Washington, State of New York and the United States Government shall not exercise any of their powers to enact local laws or ordinances within the Town of Fort Edward, both within agricultural districts and without agricultural districts, in a manner which would unreasonably restrict or regulate (farm structures or farming practices) generally accepted agricultural best management practices, as defined by the Commissioner after consultation with and approval by the State Advisory Council on Agriculture and the State Soil and Water Conservation Committee, in contravention of the purposes of the act, unless such restrictions or regulations bear a direct relationship to the public health or safety.
No person, group, entity, association, partnership or corporation will engage in any conduct or act in any manner so as to unreasonably, intentionally, knowingly and/or deliberately interfere with, prevent or in any way deter the practice of farming within the Town of Fort Edward. Such actions may constitute an offense, punishable by law with a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars ($25.) nor more than one hundred fifty dollars ($150.) for each day's violation or continuance of a violation.
In addition, an action to restrain or enjoin any violation of the Article may be brought in a court of competent jurisdiction by any person and/or the Town of Fort Edward aggrieved by such violation.
A farm or farm operation shall not be found to be a public or private nuisance if the farm or farm operation alleged to be a nuisance conforms to generally accepted agricultural best management practices according to policy as determined by the Department of Agriculture and Markets, generally accepted by the State Advisory Council on Agriculture and the State Soil and Water Conservation Committee and revised as considered necessary by the Department of Agriculture and Markets with the approval of the Advisory Council on Agriculture and the State Soil and Water Conservation Committee.
Conveyance of real property adjoining lands eligible to receive an agricultural assessment within agricultural districts. Prior to entering into a contractual agreement or as part of the contractual agreement or purchase and sales agreement for the conveyance of any real property adjoining lands eligible to receive an agricultural assessment pursuant to Article 25-AA of the Agriculture and Markets Law, the prospective grantor shall deliver to the prospective grantee an affidavit which states the following:
If an adjoining parcel of property is currently farmed yet outside the agricultural district, this notification requirement is recommended but not mandatory, and Subsection C within this section is not applicable.
Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, a failure to comply with the provisions of Subsection A of this section shall, at the option of the prospective grantee, render any contractual agreement between the prospective grantee and the prospective grantor relative to such lands null and void, provided that the prospective grantor declares such contractual agreement null and void prior to the actual conveyance by deed of such lands to the grantee.
It is the intent of this Article, pursuant to the powers of the Municipal Home Rule Law, General Municipal Law and Town Law, to supersede any Washington County law, New York State law or federal law and its rules and regulations when in conflict with the policy and statement regarding this Right To Farm Law.
Furthermore, it is the intent of this Article to preempt state and/or federal land use legislation, regulations and policies when said legislation and policies and regulations conflict with the purposes, intent and objectives of this Article, specifically New York State Department of Conservation and United States Park Agency rules and regulations.
This Article does not intend to preempt or supersede the federal floodplain and stormwater regulations.
Pursuant to the authority provided in § 22 of the Municipal Home Rule Law, provisions of the New York State Public Health Law are hereby changed and superseded by this Article insofar as they apply to farming practices, as defined herein, within the Town of Fort Edward.
Public Health Law § 1300-a shall not apply.
Public Health Law § 1300-c shall be changed to read as follows: "Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, farming practices shall not be considered a public or private nuisance, provided that such farming practices are consistent with the best management practices or generally accepted farming practices which are undertaken in conformity with federal, state and local laws, ordinances, rules or regulations which do not unreasonably restrict such practices in contravention of the purposes of this Article or the purposes of Article 25-AA of the Agriculture and Markets Law."
The Town of Fort Edward will require the Fort Edward Planning Board to record the following notation on all plats/mylars on any subdivision project (minor or major), mobile home park or site plan project approved by the Planning Board within the Town of Fort Edward. Furthermore, the Town of Fort Edward will require the grantor within an approved subdivision, approved site plan or approved mobile home park to incorporate this language in any subsequent conveyance by deed or other means.
Any issue or controversy that arises which cannot be resolved directly between the parties involved and is not addressed by other laws or regulations may be promptly and inexpensively resolved by referral to the Local Grievance Committee.
The Grievance Committee shall be appointed by the Town Board and will consist of five (5) members. At least three (3) of these members shall be residents of the Town of Fort Edward. Two (2) of the three (3) will be from an agricultural-related business, and the other shall be from a nonagricultural-related background. Selection of the remaining two (2) members may be at large from within Washington County, such as a county extension agent or other county official. The original appointments shall have terms of two (2) for one (1) year, two (2) for two (2) years and one (1) for three (3) years. Thereafter, members will be appointed annually for three-year terms.
Any controversy between the parties shall be submitted to the Grievance Committee within thirty (30) days of the date of the occurrence of the particular activity giving rise to the controversy or of the date a party becomes aware of the occurrence.
The parties will recognize the value and importance of full discussion and complete presentation and agreement concerning all pertinent facts in order to eliminate any misunderstandings. The parties will cooperate in the exchange of pertinent information concerning the controversy.
The controversy shall be presented to the Committee by written request of one (1) of the parties within the time limits specified. Thereafter, the Committee may investigate the facts of the controversy but must, within thirty (30) days, hold a meeting to consider the merits of the matter and within ten (10) days of the meeting render a written decision to the parties. At the time of the meeting, both parties shall have the opportunity to present what each considers to be pertinent facts.
Town Board procedures.
The controversy between the parties shall be submitted to the Town Board upon written agreement of both parties.
The Town Board shall review the controversy with a report submitted from the proceedings of the Grievance Committee. Within twenty (20) days of the written request, the Town Board shall render a written decision to the parties.