[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Livonia as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Right to Farm
[Adopted 5-1-2014 by L.L. No. 2-2014]
The Town Board of the Town of Livonia finds, declares and determines that agriculture is essential to the Town of Livonia, New York, for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
Agriculture is a livelihood and provides employment opportunities both on local farms and in businesses that support agriculture in the Town of Livonia;
Agriculture provides locally produced, fresh commodities for both local consumption and for export;
Agriculture diversity promotes economic stability;
Agricultural or farming operations in the Town of Livonia maintain valued open space and promotes environmental quality; and
Agricultural land does not increase the demand for services provided by local governments.
The Town Board further finds that in order to maintain a viable farming economy in the Town of Livonia, farmers must be afforded protection allowing them the right to farm. Nonagricultural land uses, when they are extended into agricultural areas, may be adversely impacted by widely accepted agricultural practices, and agricultural operations may become the subject of nuisance suits. As a result, farm operators may be discouraged from making the investments in equipment and capital improvements necessary to maintain their competitiveness in the market or may be forced to cease operation altogether.
It is the purpose of this article to reduce the loss to the Town of Livonia of its agricultural resources by limiting 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.
Unless specifically defined, words or phrases used in this article shall be interpreted so as to give them meanings they have in common usage, and to give this article its most reasonable application.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- AGRICULTURAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION COMMITTEE
- A committee of the Town of Livonia authorized under this article to provide a venue for resolving any issue or controversy that may arise regarding any inconveniences or discomforts occasioned by an agricultural operation, including, but not limited to, noise, odors, fumes, dust, the operation of machinery, the storage and disposal of manure, and the application by spraying or otherwise of chemical fertilizers, soil amendments, herbicides and/or pesticides. Said Committee shall be made up of three members from the Town selected by the Town Board, as the need arises, one of which shall be the Chairman of the Planning Board or a designee. At least one member of the Committee shall be a member of the Town's farm community.
- AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES
- Any activities conducted by a farmer on a farm which contribute to the production, preparation and marketing of crops, livestock and livestock products as a commercial enterprise, as defined in Article 25AA, § 301 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, as well as the construction and use of farm structures, fences and other facilities for the housing and control of animals, storage of animal wastes, farm equipment, pesticides, fertilizers, agricultural products, for the sale of agricultural products, and for the use of farm labor, as permitted by local and state building codes and regulations.
- AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS
- Those products as defined in Article 25-AA, § 301 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law.
- The land, buildings including residential buildings, equipment, manure processing and handling facilities, and agricultural practices which contribute to the production, preparation and marketing of crops, livestock and livestock products as a commercial enterprise.
- A person or persons, organization, entity, association, partnership, or corporation engaged in the agricultural practices as defined by this law, for profit or otherwise, including the cultivation of land, the raising of crops, or the raising of livestock, poultry, fur-bearing animals, or fish, the harvesting of timber or the practicing of horticulture or apiculture.
- GENERALLY ACCEPTED AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES
- Those practices necessary for the on-farm production, preparation and marketing of agricultural commodities, including but not limited to the operation of farm equipment; proper use of agricultural chemicals and other crop protection methods; direct sale to consumers of agricultural commodities or foods containing agricultural commodities produced on-farm; agricultural tourism; and the production, management and harvesting of "farm woodland," as defined in Article 25-AA, § 301 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law.
Farmers, and those employed, retained, or otherwise authorized to act on behalf of farmers, may lawfully engage in agricultural practices within the Town of Livonia at all such times and in all such locations as are reasonably necessary to conduct the business of agriculture. In determining the reasonableness of the time, place and specific approach to any specific agricultural 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 in the Town of Livonia shall not be found to be a nuisance if such agricultural practices are:
Reasonable and necessary to the particular farm or farm operations;
Conducted in a manner which is not negligent or reckless;
Conducted in conformity with generally accepted 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; and
Conducted in a manner which does not unreasonably obstruct the free passage or use of navigable waters or public roadways.
Nothing in this article shall be construed to prohibit an aggrieved party from recovering damages for bodily injury or wrongful death.
The intent and purposes of this article shall be taken into consideration by each Town officer and/or board in processing any application requesting rezoning, site plan approval and/or special use permit approval when the property which is the subject of such application is located within 1,000 feet of the boundary of an existing farm. Such Town officer and/or board may, as part of its review of such application, determine whether appropriate and reasonable conditions which would further the purposes and intent of this article may be prescribed or required as part of an approval of the application.
Such appropriate and reasonable conditions may include, but not be limited to, requiring declarations, deed restrictions and/or covenants which run with the land which would notify future purchasers and owners of the subject property that owning and occupying such property might expose them to certain discomforts or inconveniences resulting from the conditions associated with agricultural practices and operations in the Town.
Should any issue or controversy arise regarding any inconveniences or discomforts, occasioned by agricultural operation, including, but not limited to, noise, odors, fumes, dust, the operation of machinery, the storage, management and application of manure, and the application by spraying or otherwise of chemical fertilizers, soil amendments, herbicides and/or pesticides, the parties may submit the issue or controversy to the Agricultural Dispute Resolution Committee as set forth below in an attempt to resolve the matter prior to the filing of any court action.
Any controversy between the parties may be submitted to the Agricultural Dispute Resolution Committee, whose decision shall be advisory only, within 30 days of the date of the occurrence of the particular activity giving rise to the controversy or of the date one or the other of the involved parties became aware of the occurrence.
The controversy shall be presented to the Agricultural Dispute Resolution Committee by written request of one of the parties within the time limits prescribed above. Thereafter, the Committee may investigate the facts of the controversy but must, within 30 days, hold a meeting to consider the merits of the matter and within 20 days of the meeting must render a written decision to the parties. At the time of the meeting, both parties shall have an opportunity to present to the Committee what each party considers to be the pertinent facts.
The effectiveness of the Agricultural Dispute Resolution Committee as a forum for resolution of grievances 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 cooperate in the exchange of pertinent information concerning the controversy.