[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Harvard 3-27-2006 by Art. 23. 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 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").
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.