Town of Southwick, MA
Hampden County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Special Town Meeting 1-9-2006 by Art. 12. 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 Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40A, Section 3, Paragraph 1; Chapter 90, Section 9, Chapter 111, Section 125A and Chapter 128, Section 1A. We the citizens of Southwick 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 Southwick 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.
Moreover, nothing in this Right To Farm Bylaw shall be deemed as acquiring any interest in land, or as imposing any land use regulation, which is properly the subject of state statute, regulation, or local zoning law.
The word "farm" shall include any parcel or contiguous parcels of land, or water bodies used for the primary purpose of commercial agriculture, or accessory thereto.
The words "farming" or "agriculture" or their derivatives shall include, but not be limited to the following:
Farming in all its branches and the cultivation and tillage of the soil;
Dairying;
Production, cultivation, growing, and harvesting of any agricultural, aquacultural, floricultural, viticultural, or horticultural commodities;
Growing and harvesting of forest products upon forest land, and any other forestry or lumbering operations;
Raising of livestock including horses;
Keeping of horses as a commercial enterprise; and keeping and raising of poultry, swine, sheep, cattle, ratites and camelids, 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:
Operation and transportation of slow-moving farm equipment over roads within the Town;
Control of pests, including, but not limited to, insects, weeds, predators and disease organism of plants and animals;
Application of manure, fertilizers and pesticides;
Conducting agriculture-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;
Processing and packaging of the agricultural output of the farm and the operation of a farmer's market or farm stand including signage thereto, provided such stands and signs comply with local zoning bylaws;
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
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 Southwick. The above-described farming or 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.
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 Southwick, the landowner shall present the buyer or occupant with a 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 agricultural operations including the ability to access water services for such property under certain circumstances. Purchasing or occupying land within the Town of Southwick means that one should expect and accept such conditions as a normal and necessary part of living in this community.
Further details regarding the Right to Farm are provided in the Town's Right to Farm Bylaw, which is available for review at the Town Hall."
A copy of the disclosure notification shall be given on a form prepared by the Town, which is available at the Clerk's Office at Town Hall, and shall be signed by the landowner prior to the sale, purchase, exchange or occupancy of such real property. Buyer of said property must sign an acknowledgement statement on the notification. A copy of the disclosure notification must be filed with the Board of Selectmen or its designee prior to the sale, purchase, exchange or occupancy of such real property.
A violation of § 140-4 shall be subject to a fine of up to $300 and shall be enforced by the Board of Selectmen or its designee. The Town is authorized to enforce § 140-4 under the noncriminal disposition provision of M.G.L. c. 40, § 21D.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 1, General Provisions, § 1-6.
Any person who seeks to complain about the operation of a farm may, notwithstanding pursuing any other available remedy, file a grievance with the Selectmen, 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 Selectmen 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 30 days.
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.
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 Southwick hereby declares the provisions of this bylaw to be severable.