[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Elmira 3-20-2006 by L.L. No. 1-2006. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Board recognizes that farming is an essential enterprise and an important industry that enhances the economic base, natural environment and quality of life in the Town of Elmira. Therefore, the Town Board of the Town of Elmira finds and declares that this Town encourages its agriculture and urges understanding of and cooperation with the necessary day-to-day operations involved in farming.
It is the general purpose and intent of this chapter to maintain and preserve the rural traditions and character of the Town, to permit the continuation of agricultural practices, to protect the existence and operation of farms, to encourage the initiation and expansion of farms and agribusiness, and to promote new ways to resolve disputes concerning agricultural practices and farming operations. In order to maintain a viable farming economy in Elmira, it is necessary to limit the circumstances under which farming may be deemed to be a nuisance and to allow agricultural practices inherent to and necessary for the business of farming to proceed and be undertaken free of unreasonable and unwarranted interference or restriction.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES
- Those practices necessary for the on-farm production, preparation and marketing of agricultural commodities. Examples of such practices include, but are not limited to, operation of farm equipment, proper use of agricultural chemicals and other crop protection methods, manure application and construction and use of farm structures and fences.
- AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS
- Those products as defined in § 301(2) of Article 25-AA of the State Agriculture and Markets Law, including, but not limited to.
- A. Field crops, including corn, wheat, rye, barley, hay, potatoes and dry beans.
- B. Fruits, including apples, peaches, grapes, cherries and berries.
- C. Vegetables, including tomatoes, snap beans, cabbage, carrots, beets and onions.
- D. Horticulture specialties, including nursery stock, ornamental shrubs, ornamental trees and flowers.
- E. Livestock and livestock products, including cattle, sheep, hogs, goats, horses, poultry, farmed deer, farmed buffalo, fur-bearing animals, milk, eggs and furs.
- F. Woodland products, including maple sap, logs, lumber, posts and firewood.
- G. Christmas trees derived from a managed Christmas tree operation, whether dug for transplanting or cut from the stump.
- H. Aquaculture products, including fish, fish products, water plants and shellfish.
- I. Woody biomass, which means short-rotation woody crops raise for bioenergy, and shall not include farm woodland.
- J. Apiary products, including honey, beeswax, royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis, package bees, nucs and queens. For the purposes of this subsection, "nucs" shall mean small honeybee colonies created from larger colonies, including the nuc box, which is a smaller version of a beehive, designed to hold up to five frames from an existing colony.
- Any person, organization, entity, association, partnership, limited-liability company, or corporation engaged in the business of agriculture, whether for profit or otherwise, including the cultivation of land, the raising of crops, or the raising of livestock.
- Land used in agricultural production as defined in Subdivision 4 of § 301 of Article 25-AA of the State Agriculture and Markets Law.
- FARM OPERATION
- As defined in § 301(11) of the State Agriculture and Markets Law.
- FARM WOODLAND
- Includes land used for production and sale of woodland products, including but not limited to logs, lumber, posts and firewood.
Farmers, as well as those employed, retained or otherwise authorized to act on behalf of farmers, may lawfully engage in agricultural practices with this Town at all times and all such locations as are reasonable necessary to conduct the business of agriculture. For any agricultural practice, in determining the reasonableness of the time, place and methodology of such practice, due weight and consideration shall be given to both traditional customs and procedures in the farming industry as well as to advances resulting from increased knowledge and improved technologies.
Agricultural practices conducted on farmland shall not be found to be a public or private nuisance if such agricultural practices are:
Reasonable and necessary to the particular farm or farm operation.
Conducted in a manner that is not negligent or reckless.
Conducted in conformity with generally accepted and sound agricultural practices.
Conducted in conformity with all local, state and federal laws and regulations.
Conducted in a manner which does not constitute a threat to public health and safety or cause injury to health or safety or any person.
Conducted in a manner that does not unreasonably obstruct the free passage or use of navigable waters or public roadways.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit an aggrieved party from recovering damages for bodily injury or wrongful death due to failure to follow sound agricultural practices, as outlined in this section.
In order to promote harmony between farmers and their neighbors, the Town requires land holders and/or their agents and assigns to comply with § 310 of Article 25-AA of the State Agriculture and Markets Law and provide notice to prospective purchasers and occupants as follows: "It is the policy of this state and this community to conserve, protect and encourage the development and improvement of agricultural land for the production of food and other products and also for its natural and ecological value. This notice is to inform prospective residents that farming activities occur within the Town. Such farming activities may include, but are not be limited to, activities that cause noise, dust, smoke and odors. Prospective residents are also informed that the location of property within an agricultural district may impact the ability to access water and/or sewer services for such property under certain circumstances. Prospective purchasers are urged to contact the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to obtain additional information or clarification regarding their rights and obligations under Article 25-AA of the Agriculture and Markets Law."
A copy of this notice shall be included as an addendum to the purchase and sale contract at the time an offer to purchase is made.
In addition, this notice shall be included in building permits and on plats of subdivisions submitted for approval pursuant to Town Law § 276 (Subdivision review; approval of plats; development of filed plats).
There shall be no raising or harboring of traditional and nontraditional livestock, to include fowl, in those planned developments already established within the Town of Elmira or future developments.
Should any controversy arise regarding inconveniences occasioned by agricultural operations which cannot be settled by direct negotiation between the parties involved, either party may submit the controversy to a dispute resolution committee as set forth below in an attempt to resolve the matter prior to the filing of any court action and prior to a request for a determination by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets about whether the practice in question is sound pursuant to § 308 of Article 25-AA of the State Agriculture and Markets Law.
Any controversy between the parties shall be submitted to the committee within 30 days of the last date of occurrence of the particular activity giving rise to the controversy or the date the party became aware of the occurrence.
The committee will be composed of three members, one selected from the County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, one person from the Town government selected by the Town Board and one person mutually agreed upon by both parties involved in the dispute.
The effectiveness of the committee as a forum for the resolution of disputes is dependent upon full discussion and complete presentation of all pertinent facts concerning the dispute in order to eliminate any misunderstandings. The parties are encouraged to consult with agricultural experts such as New York State Agriculture and Markets, Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Soil and Water Conservation District.
The controversy shall be presented to the committee by written request of one of the parties within the time limits specified. Thereafter, the committee may investigate the facts of the controversy but must, within 25 days, hold a meeting to considerate the merits of the matter and, within five days of the meeting, render a written decision to the parties. At the time of the meeting, both parties shall have an opportunity to present what each considers to be pertinent facts. No party bringing a complaint to the committee for settlement or resolution may be represented by counsel unless counsel also represents the opposing party. The time limits provided in this subsection for action by the committee may be extended upon the written stipulation of all parties in the dispute.
Any reasonable costs associated with the functioning of the committee process shall be borne by the participants. However, the prevailing participant shall be entitled to reasonable fees and other expenses incurred if the agricultural practice at issue constitutes a sound agricultural practice pursuant to an opinion issued by the Commissioner under Section 308 of the New York Agricultural Districts Law.
Editor's Note: See Agriculture and Markets Law § 308.