[HISTORY: Adopted by the County Council of Talbot County 1-27-1981 by Bill No. 143. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as the "Talbot County Agricultural Land Preservation Ordinance."
This chapter is adopted for the following purposes:
To provide for the preservation of agricultural lands through the voluntary establishment of Agricultural Preservation Districts and for the voluntary sale of development rights easements on eligible agricultural lands within Talbot County; provided, however, that the County shall assume no financial responsibility for the purchase of development rights easements.
To provide for the protection of normal agricultural activities within established Agricultural Preservation Districts.
To provide procedures for the creation and recording of official Agricultural Preservation District maps.
To protect and provide for the public health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of Talbot County.
[Amended 7-24-2001 by Bill No. 837]
This chapter is adopted by virtue of the authority of Md. Code Ann., Agriculture Art., §§ 2-501 et seq.
Agricultural Preservation Districts established in Talbot County shall provide for the protection of normal agricultural activities in the districts through provisions for the following activities:
Any farm use of land is permitted.
Operation at any time of any machinery used in farm production or the primary processing of agricultural products is permitted.
All normal agricultural operations performed in accordance with good husbandry practices, which do not cause bodily injury or directly endanger human health, are permitted and preferred activities, including but not limited to activities which may produce normal agriculturally related noise, odor, vibration, fumes, dust or glare.
The sale of farm products produced on the farm where the sales are made is permitted.
Official maps of Agricultural Preservation Districts shall be kept and shall be revised from time to time to reflect the establishment, alteration and abolition of Agricultural Preservation District boundaries. The official map shall be made current at least once a year by June 30 of each year and shall be published at the same scale as the Department of Assessments and Taxation Tax Maps. The official maps and all revisions thereto shall be certified by the Clerk to the County Council.
Copies of all official Agricultural Preservation District maps shall be located in the offices of the Talbot County Planning Office and shall be available for public inspection.
Upon receipt of a petition to establish an Agricultural Preservation District, the County Council shall refer the petition and accompanying materials to both the Advisory Board and to the Planning Commission.
Within 60 days of the referral of a petition, the Advisory Board shall inform the County Council whether the land in the proposed district meets the qualifications established under § 5-7 of this chapter and whether the Advisory Board recommends establishment of the district.
Within 60 days of the referral of a petition, the Planning Commission shall inform the County Council whether establishment of the district is compatible with existing and approved County plans, programs and overall County policy and whether the Planning Commission recommends establishment of the district.
If either the Advisory Board or the Planning Commission recommends approval, the County Council shall hold a public hearing on the petition. Adequate notice of the hearing shall be given to all landowners in the proposed district, to landowners adjacent to the proposed district, as far as feasible, and to the Foundation. If neither body recommends approval of the petition, the County Council shall deny the petition and notify the landowner or landowners and the Foundation, stating the reasons for the denial.
Within 120 days after the receipt of the petition, the County Council shall render a decision on whether the petition shall be recommended to the Foundation for approval.
If the County Council decides to recommend approval of the petition, it shall so notify the Foundation and forward to the Foundation the petition and all accompanying materials, including the recommendations of the Advisory Board and Planning Commission, and a composite property boundary map of the proposed district.
If the County Council recommends denial of the petition, it shall so inform the Foundation and the petitioner or petitioners, stating the reasons for this denial.
In accord with Md. Code Ann., Agriculture Art., §§ 2-501 et seq., and with Maryland Regulations 15.15.01, Agricultural Preservation District establishment shall be accomplished by this chapter only upon formal notification to the County Council of Talbot County by the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation. Such notification shall include a copy of the Agricultural Preservation District agreement signed by all parties and as recorded among the land records of Talbot County.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I)]
All such district agreements, together with property descriptions, shall be maintained in an official file and be available from the Talbot County Planning and Zoning Office, County Building, Easton, Maryland 21601.
Productive capability criteria.
Agricultural Preservation Districts shall consist of land which is either used primarily for the production of food or fiber or is of such open space character and productive capability that continued agricultural production is feasible.
The majority of the land area of any Agricultural Preservation District should consist of USDA Soil Capability Classes I, II and III or USDA Woodland Groups 1 and 2. Exceptions may include land areas of lower general capability, but which are characterized by special capabilities or production as a result of soil, microclimatic, topographic or hydrologic features, and areas of existing, extensive, specialized production, including dairying, livestock and poultry production and fruit and berry production.
District size criteria. An Agricultural Preservation District may not be less than 100 contiguous acres, except that less than 100 contiguous acres may constitute a district where smaller areas are characterized by special capabilities or production as a result of soil, microclimatic, topographic or hydrologic features.
Locational criteria. Land within the boundaries of a ten-year water and sewerage service district may be included in an Agricultural Preservation District only if that land is of outstanding productivity and is of significant size.
Additions to existing districts. The procedures for adding land to existing districts shall be the same as for the initial establishment of districts. There is no minimum size criteria for the addition of land parcels contiguous to an Agricultural Preservation District.
As used in this chapter, the following words and phrases shall be defined as follows:
- ADVISORY BOARD
- The Talbot County Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board.
- COUNTY COUNCIL
- The County Council of Talbot County.
- The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.
- PLANNING COMMISSION
- The Talbot County Planning Commission.