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Town of Belchertown, MA
Hampshire County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Belchertown as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Zoning — See Ch. 145.
[Adopted 5-11-2009 ATM by Art. 12]
The purpose and intent of this article is to state with emphasis the right to farm accorded to all citizens of the commonwealth under Article 97 of the Articles of Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution, and all commonwealth statutes and regulations thereunder, including but not limited to MGL c. 40A, § 3, Paragraph 1; MGL c. 90, § 9; MGL c. 111, § 125A; and MGL c. 128, § 1A. This will serve to 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).
The citizens of this Town voted at a Special Town Meeting held on August 4, 1988, to accept Chapter 613 of the Acts of 1985, known as the "Right to Farm Law," which is within the above-mentioned statutory scheme.
The word shall include any parcel or contiguous parcels of land, or water bodies used for the primary purpose of "agriculture" and "agritourism," as defined in the Belchertown Code, § 145-2, Definitions.
Includes, but is not limited to:
Production and processing of crops for generation of alternative energy and coproducts;
Operation and transportation of all farm equipment over roads within the Town;
Control of pests, including but not limited to insects, weeds, predators and disease organisms of plants and animals;
Tillage, cultivation and application of manure, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides;
Cultivation and harvest of plants and animals according to agricultural best management practices;
Conducting agriculture-related educational activities;
Conducting farm-based recreational activities, provided the activities are related to the farm;
Processing and packaging of the agricultural output of the farm and the operation of a farmers' market or farm stand, including signage thereto;
Maintenance, repair and storage of farm equipment or apparatus;
On-farm relocation of earth and the clearing of ground for farming operations;
Burning brush in accordance with state agricultural fire permit regulations (310 CMR 7.07);
Forest product production and activities necessary thereto;
Composting of plant and animal materials;
Construction and use of farm structures and facilities for the purpose of: storage of animal wastes, farm equipment, pesticides, fertilizers, agricultural products; livestock housing; processing of animal wastes and/or animal products; season extension or hydroponic production of agricultural products; sale of agricultural products; farm labor; construction and maintenance of fences; on-farm energy production equipment and structures; all as permitted by local and state building codes and regulations.
The right to farm is recognized to exist in the Town of Belchertown. 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. The benefits and protections of this article are intended to apply exclusively to those agricultural and farming operations and activities. Moreover, nothing in this article 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. This Bylaw does not supersede local, state of federal laws or regulations or private covenants.
In order to allow prospective purchasers to make informed decisions prior to a sale of property and to promote harmony between farmers and their new neighbors, the Town of Belchertown requests selling landowners and/or their agents (and assigns) to provide written notice to prospective purchasers substantially as follows:
"It is the desire of the Town of Belchertown 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 that the property they are about to acquire 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. Purchasing and occupying land within Belchertown means that one should expect and accept such conditions as a normal and necessary aspect of living in Belchertown."
The Belchertown Agricultural Commission will make available for use by selling landowners or their agents and assigns copies of written example notification, and make suggestions on their dissemination for notification purposes.
Any person having a complaint about a farm or farming activity or practice is encouraged to seek an amicable solution through resolution directly with the owner or operator of the farm at issue. Such person may also file a complaint with the Town Administrator, under this article. This procedure is notwithstanding the pursuit of other available remedies through Town bylaws and regulations, state statutes and regulations, or legal remedy. The Town Administrator will forward farming complaints to the Agricultural Commission (and other Town board or officer as appropriate). The Agricultural Commission will seek an amicable resolution through facilitating discussion between the parties, and will issue its recommendations to the Town Administrator.
Complaints about a farm or farming activity filed with other deliberative Town boards and/or officials will be copied to the Agricultural Commission as information only. The Commission will not intercede for a party in actions not placed before the Commission, but may present general information that may be beneficial to Town boards and/or officials.
If any part of this article is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, such decision shall not affect the remainder of this article. The Town of Belchertown hereby declares the provisions of this article to be severable.