[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Elk as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Right to Farm
[Adopted 10-2-2008 by Ord. No. O-2008-9]
Editor's Note: Former Art. I, Incentive Program, adopted 3-1-2007 by Ord. No. O-2007-1, was repealed 3-4-2010 by Ord. No. O-2010-3. This ordinance also provided for the redesignation of former Art. II, Right to Farm, as Art. I.
It is the purpose of this article to establish as a policy of this Township the protection of commercial farm operations and the benefits of the Right to Farm Act, N.J.S.A. 4:1C-1 et seq., as subsequently amended, against nuisance action, when recognized methods and techniques of agricultural production are implemented. Moreover, retention of agricultural activities would serve the best interests of the residents of the Township of Elk by ensuring the numerous social, economic and environmental benefits which accrue from agricultural activity.
As used in this article, the following words shall have the following meanings:
- A. A farm management unit of no less than five acres producing agricultural or horticultural products worth $2,500 or more annually and satisfying the eligibility criteria for differential property taxation pursuant to the Farmland Assessment Act of 1964, N.J.S.A. 54:4-23.1 et seq.; or
- B. A farm management unit less than five acres, producing agricultural or horticultural products worth $50,000 or more annually and otherwise satisfying the eligibility criteria for differential property taxation pursuant to the Farmland Assessment Act of 1964, N.J.S.A. 54:4-23.1 et seq.
- FARM MANAGEMENT UNIT
- A parcel or parcels of land, whether contiguous or noncontiguous, together with agricultural or horticultural buildings, structures and facilities, producing agricultural or horticultural products and operated as a single enterprise.
- FARM MARKET
- A facility used for the wholesale or retail marketing of the agricultural output of a commercial farm, and products that contribute to farm income, except that if a farm market is used for retail marketing, at least 51% of the annual gross sales of the retail farm market shall be generated from sales of agricultural output of the commercial farm, at least 51% of the annual gross sales of the retail farm market shall be generated from sales of agricultural output of the commercial farm, or at least 51% of the sales area shall be devoted to the sale of the agricultural output of the commercial farm, and except that if a retail farm market is located on land less than five acres in area, the land on which the farm market is located shall produce annually agricultural or horticultural products worth at least $2,500.
- PICK-YOUR-OWN OPERATION
- A direct marketing alternative wherein retail or wholesale customers are invited onto a commercial farm in order to harvest agricultural, floricultural or horticultural products.
The right to farm is hereby recognized to exist in this Township and is hereby declared a permitted use in all zones of this Township. This right to farm includes, but not by way of limitation:
Production of agricultural and horticultural crops, trees, apiary and forest products, livestock, poultry and other commodities as described in the Standard Industrial Classification for agriculture, forestry, fishing and trapping.
Housing and employment of necessary farm laborers.
Erection of essential agricultural buildings, including those dedicated to the processing and packaging of the output of the commercial farm and ancillary to agricultural and horticultural production.
The grazing of animals and use of range for fowl.
Construction of fences.
The operation and transportation of large, slow-moving equipment over roads within the Township.
Control of pests, including but not limited to insects and weeds, predators and diseases of plants and animals.
Conduction of agriculture-related educational and farm-based recreational activities, provided that the activities are related to marketing the agricultural or horticultural output of the commercial farm and permission of the farm owner and lessee is obtained.
Use of any and all equipment, including but not limited to irrigation pumps and equipment, aerial and ground seeding and spraying, tractors, harvest aides, and bird control devices.
The processing and packaging of the agricultural output of the commercial farm.
The operation of a farm market with attendant signage, including the construction of building and parking areas in conformance with Township standards.
The operation of a pick-your-own operation with attendant signage.
Replenishment of soil nutrients and improvement of soil tilth.
Clearing of woodlands using open burning and other techniques, installation and maintenance of vegetative and terrain alterations and other physical facilities for water and soil conservation and surface water control in wetland areas.
On-site disposal of organic agricultural wastes.
The application of manure and chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides.
Installation of wells, ponds and other water resources for agricultural purposes such as irrigation, sanitation and marketing preparation.
Commercial farm operators may engage in any other agricultural activity as determined by the State Agriculture Development Committee and adopted by rule or regulation pursuant to the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, P.L. 1968, c. 410 (N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq.).
Commercial farm operators are strongly advised to adhere to generally accepted agricultural management practices that have been:
Promulgated as rules by the State Agriculture Development Committee;
Recommended as site-specific agricultural management practices by the County Agriculture Development Board;
Approved by the local soil conservation district in the form of a farm conservation plan that is prepared in conformance with the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG), revised April 20, 1998, as amended and supplemented; or
Recommended by the Rutgers Agricultural Experiment Station.
The foregoing activities must be in conformance with applicable federal and state law.
The foregoing practices and activities may occur on holidays, weekdays and weekends by day or night and shall include the attendant or incidental noise, odors, dust and fumes associated with these practices.
It is hereby determined that whatever nuisance may be caused to others by these foregoing uses and activities is more than offset by the benefits of farming to the neighborhood community and society in general.
Any person aggrieved by the operation of a commercial farm shall file a complaint with the applicable County Agriculture Development Board, or the State Agriculture Development Committee in counties where no county board exists, prior to filing an action in court.
To help parties resolve conflicts involving the operation of commercial farms, the State Agriculture Development Committee has also established an Agricultural Mediation Program. Mediation is a voluntary process in which a trained, impartial mediator helps disputing parties examine their mutual problems, identify and consider options, and determine if they can agree on a solution. A mediator has no decisionmaking authority. Successful mediation is based on the voluntary cooperation and participation of all the parties.
A building permit shall not be issued until a grading plan has been reviewed and approved by the Township Engineer in accordance with the provisions of this subsection. Expressly excluded from the requirements set forth herein is for any building, accessory structure and/or addition to existing building or structure located on any farm that satisfies the eligibility criteria for differential property taxation pursuant to the Farmland Assessment Act, N.J.S.A. 54:4-23.1 et seq. Prior to the issuance of a building permit, the Township Engineer will issue a written opinion to the Township Committee indicating that the proposed farm building, accessory structure and/or addition to existing building or structure does not encroach upon any existing setback requirements and/or is not detrimental to the public welfare. The applicant shall pay an escrow fee of $250 for the engineer's review and inspection for the initial site inspection. The fee for the initial review and inspection shall not exceed $250 to the applicant, unless subsequent site inspections are required.