Town of Harvard, MA
Worcester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Harvard 3-27-2006 by Art. 23. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Agricultural Advisory Committee — See Ch. 4.
Protective Bylaw — See Ch. 125.
Subdivision control - See Ch. 130.

§ 123-1 Purpose and intent.

A. 
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 Articles of Amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution, and all state statutes and regulations adopted thereunder, including but not limited to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40A, Section 3, Paragraph 1; Chapter 90, Section 9; Chapter 111, Section 125A and Chapter 128, Section 1A; and any farming rights as provided for within the Town's Bylaws. We, the citizens of the Town of Harvard, restate, reaffirm and republish these rights pursuant to the Town's authority to do so conferred by Article 89 of the Articles of Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution, (the "Home Rule Amendment").
B. 
This general bylaw encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands within the Town of Harvard by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and Town agencies. This bylaw shall apply to all areas within the jurisdiction of the Town.

§ 123-2 Definitions.

For the purposes of this bylaw, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings and interpretations unless another is required by context or is specifically prescribed.
"Farm" shall include any parcel or contiguous parcels of land, or water bodies used for the primary purpose of commercial agriculture, or accessory thereto.
"Farming or Agriculture" or their derivatives shall include, but not be 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.
Raising of livestock, including horses;
F.
Keeping of horses as a commercial enterprise; and
G.
Keeping and raising of poultry, cattle, ratites (such as emus, ostriches and rheas) and camelids (such as llamas and camels), and other domesticated animals for food and other agricultural purposes, including bees and fur-bearing animals.
"Farming" shall encompass activities including, but not limited to, the following:
A.
Operation and transportation of slow-moving farm equipment over roads and ways within the Town;
B.
Control of pests, including, but not limited to, insects, weeds, predators and disease organism of plants and animals;
C.
Application of manure, fertilizers and pesticides;
D.
Conducting agricultural-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;
E.
Processing and packaging of the agricultural output of the farm and the operation 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.

§ 123-3 Right to farm declaration.

The right to farm is hereby recognized to exist within the Town of Harvard. The above-described agricultural or farming activities may occur on holidays, weekdays, and weekends by day or night and shall include attendant incidental noise, odors, dust, and fumes associated with normally accepted agricultural practices. It is hereby determined that the impact that may be caused to others through the normal and lawful practice of agriculture is 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 to those commercial agricultural and farming operations and other noncommercial farming activities conducted in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices. Moreover, nothing in this Right to Farm Bylaw shall be deemed to effectuate an acquisition of any interest in land or as the imposition of any land use regulation which is properly the subject of state statute, regulation, or local zoning law.

§ 123-4 Disclosure notification.

A. 
Not later than 21 days after the purchase and sale contract is entered into, or prior to the sale or exchange of real property (if no purchase and sale agreement exists), for the purchase or exchange of real property, or prior to the acquisition of a leasehold interest or other possessory interest in real property, located in the Town of Harvard, the landowner shall present the buyer or occupant with a written disclosure notification which states the following:
"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 and other agricultural operations."
B. 
A copy of the disclosure notification shall be given on a form prepared by the Town and shall be signed by the landowner prior to the sale, purchase, exchange or occupancy of such real property. A copy of the disclosure notification must be filed with the Board of Selectman or its designee prior to the sale, purchase, exchange or occupancy of such real property.
C. 
In addition to the above notification, a copy of this disclosure notification shall be provided by the Town to landowners in the Town, each fiscal year, by mail.

§ 123-5 Resolution of disputes.

A. 
Any person who seeks to complain about the operation of a farm or its effects may, notwithstanding pursuing any other available remedy, file a grievance with the appropriate Town authority (such as the Board of Selectmen, the Zoning Enforcement Officer, the Board of Health, Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Commission, or others) 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 party may have. The Town authority so notified of such grievance may forward a copy to the Agricultural Advisory 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.
B. 
The Board of Health shall not be obligated to consider forwarding a copy of any grievance to the Agricultural Advisory Commission in cases of imminent danger or a public health risk.

§ 123-6 Severability clause.

If any part of this bylaw is for any reason held to be unconstitutional, unlawful or invalid, such decision shall not affect the remainder of this bylaw. The Town of Harvard hereby declares the provisions of this bylaw to be severable.