[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Fairhaven 5-2-2009 by Art. 33. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose and intent of this chapter 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 the Town of Fairhaven, 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 chapter encourages the pursuit of sustainable agriculture, promotes sustainable agriculture-based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands within the Town of Fairhaven by allowing sustainable agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and Town agencies. This chapter shall apply to all jurisdictional areas within the Town.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Includes any parcel, or contiguous parcels of land, five acres or greater in size, or water bodies used for the primary purpose of commercial agriculture, aquaculture, or accessory thereto.
- Encompasses activities including, but not limited to, the following:
- A. Breeding, planting, growing, and raising of crops;
- B. Operation and transportation of slow-moving farm equipment over roads within the Town;
- C. Control of pests, including, but not limited to, insects, weeds, predators and disease organism of plants and animals;
- D. Application of manure, fertilizers and pesticides in compliance with local, state and federal regulations;
- E. 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;
- F. Processing and packaging of the agricultural output of the farm; and
- G. The operation of a farmer's market or farm stand, including signage thereto; subject to Chapter 198, Zoning, and appropriate Building Codes; and
- H. 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.
- FARMING OR AGRICULTURE OR THEIR DERIVATIVES
- Includes, but is 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, aquaculture, floricultural, viticulture, or horticultural commodities;
- D. Growing and harvesting of forest products upon forestland and any other forestry or lumbering operations;
- E. Raising of livestock, including horses;
- F. Keeping of horses as a commercial enterprise;
- G. Keeping and raising of poultry, livestock, and other domesticated animals for food; and
- H. Other agricultural purposes as listed under the Standard Industrial Classification, U.S. Department of Labor, Division A, Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, maintained by O.S.H.A.
The right to farm is hereby recognized to exist within the Town of Fairhaven. The above-described 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 chapter are intended to apply exclusively to those commercial agricultural and farming operations and activities conducted in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practice. Moreover, nothing in this chapter 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.
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 Fairhaven, the landowner shall present the buyer or occupant with a disclosure notification which states the following:
A copy of the disclosure notification shall be given on a Town-approved form prepared and signed by the landowner, prior to the sale, purchase, exchange or occupancy of such real property.
Any person who seeks to complain about the operation of a farm may, notwithstanding pursuing any other available remedy, file a grievance with the Board of Selectmen, the Zoning Enforcement Officer, or the Board of Health, in accordance with statute and appropriate bylaws and regulations of the Town of Fairhaven. The filing of the grievance does not suspend the time within which to pursue any other available remedies that the aggrieved may have. The Board of Selectmen, Zoning Enforcement Officer or the Board of Health shall 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 an agreed-upon time frame.
If any section, paragraph or part of this chapter is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid by any court of last resort, every other section, paragraph or part shall continue in full force and effect. This chapter restates the various protections afforded to commercial farms throughout Massachusetts state law and is intended to educate citizens that farming activities are valued in the Town of Fairhaven. Our few remaining commercial farms provide essential components to maintain the character of the Town. The notification provisions of this chapter will enhance awareness relative to the value of agriculture in the Town of Fairhaven. There are no new benefits or protections provided in this chapter beyond those contained in state laws.