[Adopted 6-10-2009 by Ord. No. 0-09-05]
There is hereby established within the Township of South Harrison an Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC), which will serve as an advisory committee to the Land Use Board and the Township Committee on matters of interest to the farming community. The Township has established that the benefits to society and the community which accrue as a result of home and commercial farming, including supplying present and future generations with the bounty of the farm, and the preservation of the rural countryside far outweigh the detriments. The establishment of an Agricultural Advisory Committee will ensure an open line of communication between the farming community and the Planning Board and Township Committee.
The Township Committee of South Harrison Township finds that the needs and concerns of farmland owners and operators within the community are important and must be understood by Township officials and residents. In order to protect and maintain the beneficial character of agriculture to South Harrison, farmland preservation planning must be complemented by establishing, protecting and maintaining within the region a positive business climate for agriculture. The interest of farmers in making reasonable economic use of their farms, whether preserved or not, must be taken into consideration when South Harrison considers new or revised land use plans, policies and ordinances.
The purposes of the Agricultural Advisory Committee shall be:
To represent the needs and concerns of farmland owners and operators within the community and facilitate communication and understanding among Township officials, residents and the agricultural community.
To encourage the growth, expansion and retention of existing agricultural businesses and farms in the Township and to encourage farmers to continue to engage in their trade.
To attract new agriculture-related businesses, commerce and industry to locate or relocate in the Township.
To partially meet eligibility requirements for planning incentive grants administered by the State Agriculture Development Committee pursuant to N.J.A.C. 2:76-17
To serve as a channel for communication between the farming community and the local government relating to agriculture and farming practices, planning for the future of farmland and agriculture, considering plans and regulations impacting on the farming community and regarding development projects and issues.
To ensure that the municipal Right-to-Farm Ordinance is consistent with the State Model Right-to-Farm Ordinance and that other municipal ordinances and development regulations reinforce that farmers operating under generally accepted agricultural practices are not a nuisance to the community.
Membership. The South Harrison Agricultural Advisory Committee shall be composed of five members and two alternate members, who are residents of South Harrison Township. The members shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Township Committee, and shall not be an elected public official. One member may also be a member of the Planning/Zoning Board. A majority of the AAC members must be actively engaged in farming and derive their primary income from farming and own at least a portion of the land they farm. All members shall be residents of the Township and shall serve without compensation. One of the Committee members will also serve as a Township liaison to the Gloucester County Agricultural Development Board (CADB).
Term of Office. Members shall be appointed by the Mayor and the Township Committee. Appointments for the initial committee shall be one one-year term, two two-year terms and two three-year terms. Thereafter, each appointed member shall serve a term of three years. Members shall choose a Chair, who shall serve as liaison between the Committee and the Township Committee and Planning Board. The Chair, or a designee, shall keep notes of the meeting, which shall be deemed to be the property of the Township and shall be submitted to the Planning Board, Township Committee and the County Agriculture Development Board (CADB) within 30 days of the meeting. The Chair shall serve as the spokesperson for the AAC in discussions with the Township Committee and Planning Board.
Resignation. Any member desiring to resign from the Committee shall submit a resignation in writing to the Township Clerk, who shall present the resignation to the Township Committee for acceptance.
Removal from Office. Upon three consecutive unexcused absences of a member or upon an affirmative vote of a super majority of the Township Committee, and upon recommendation by the other members of the AAC, the Township Committee may remove a member and appoint a replacement.
The Agricultural Advisory Committee shall meet on no fewer than three occasions per year, and more if necessary, and shall report to the Planning Board and Township Committee at least once per year to report on the year's activities and important issues. The report may also include recommendations.
The AAC shall assist the Planning Board and Township Committee by providing information about developments or changes in the farming community.
The AAC will assist the Planning Board and Township Committee by reviewing proposed ordinances or regulations for impacts upon the farming community, including all ordinances affecting land use in the Agricultural Development Area (ADA). This may include recommending growth management strategies.
The AAC will assist, through consultation, the Planning Board in the preparation of a Comprehensive Municipal Farmland Preservation Plan element of the Master Plan pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55D-28b(13) and/or an agriculture retention plan in accordance with the guidelines provided by the State Agriculture Development Committee. The plan shall include the following sections at a minimum, but will follow the SADC's guide.
An inventory of farm properties in the entire municipality and a map illustrating what the community considers significant areas of agricultural land;
A detailed statement showing that municipal plans and ordinances support and promote agriculture as a business;
A plan for preserving as much farmland as possible in the short term by leveraging monies made available by the Garden State Preservation Trust Act N.J.S.A. 13:8C-1 et seq. or other farmland preservation funding programs through a variety of mechanisms outlined in N.J.A.C. 2:76-17.6 (a)3;
A statement of farming trends characterizing the types of agricultural production in South Harrison; and
A discussion of plans to enhance the agricultural industry in South Harrison.
The AAC will assist the Planning Board and the Township Committee in reviewing proposed adjustments and amendments to the Farmland Preservation and/or Agricultural Retention Master Plan Element and the list of farms to be included and targeted in the easement purchase acquisition program.
To provide educational opportunities for residents to learn about the history of farming in South Harrison, ways to support the local farming community, and how to become involved in the agricultural industry.
To review and recommend any changes to the Agricultural Development Area (ADA) to the Planning Board and CADB.