[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Riverhead 10-14-1997 by L.L. No. 14-1997 (Ch. 44, §§ 44-1 through 44-5, of the 1976 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known and shall be cited as the "Agricultural Lands Preservation Law of the Town of Riverhead."
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- AGRICULTURAL LANDS
- Lands possessing soils or geography which allow effective agricultural production.
- AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION
- The cultivation of the soil for food products and other useful or valuable growths of the field, including but not limited to:
- A. Field crops, including corn, wheat, oats, 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. Horticultural 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. Maple sap.
- 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. Farm woodland, including land used for the production for sale of woodland products, including but not limited to logs, lumber, posts and firewood. Farm woodland shall not include land used to produce Christmas trees or land used for the processing or retail merchandising of woodland products.
- J. Commercial horse-boarding operation, meaning an agricultural enterprise, consisting of at least 10 acres and boarding at least 10 horses, regardless of ownership. Under no circumstances shall this use be construed to include operations whose primary on-site function is horse racing.
- K. Farm operations, meaning the land used in agricultural production and farming practices conducted on such land, and farm building and farm equipment involved in the processing of aforementioned agricultural products.
- The transfer of any development right from the Town of Riverhead to another.
- The Riverhead Town Farmland Preservation Committee.
- DEVELOPMENT RIGHT
- The right permitted to a lot, parcel or area of land for the exclusive purpose of transfer from a sending district to a receiving district.
- RECEIVING DISTRICT
- One or more designated districts to which development rights generated from one or more sending districts may be transferred and in which increased development is permitted to occur by reason of such transfer.
- SENDING DISTRICT
- One or more designated districts in which development rights are designated for use in one or more receiving districts.
- WAIVER LETTER
- Authorization by the Farmland Preservation Committee to erect certain structures in an instance when no construction permit is required.
The Town Board of the Town of Riverhead hereby finds that the conservation of prime agricultural lands used in bona fide agricultural production is of vital importance to both the character of the Town of Riverhead and its economy. The Town Board further finds that agriculture has historically been and continues to be an important industry providing fresh food and horticultural products to the residents of the Town and the region, while generally contributing to the enhancement of the quality of life of the citizens of the Town of Riverhead. Based upon its findings, it is the intent of the Town Board and the purpose of this chapter to preserve, through a number of land use mechanisms, important agricultural lands in the interest of the public pursuant to the findings of this chapter and the New York State Legislature as set forth in § 247 of the General Municipal Law.
Purpose. The Town Board of the Town of Riverhead finds that the preservation of prime farmland and the maintenance of a viable agricultural industry are critical elements of the economy of the Town and contribute towards the rational allocation of land use within the Town.
Protected farm practices. In order to allow for the viability of the agricultural industry, farmers shall have the right to undertake protected farm practices in the active pursuit of agricultural operations, including but not limited to clearing, grading, plowing, aerial and ground spraying, the use of legal agricultural chemicals (including herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers), raising horses, poultry, small livestock and cattle, processing and marketing produce, installing water and soil conservation facilities, utilizing crop protection devices, designing, constructing and using structures, including barns, stables, paddocks, fences, greenhouses and pump houses, using water, pumping, spraying, pruning and harvesting, disposing of organic wastes on the farm, extensive use of farm laborers, training and others in the use and care of equipment, animals, traveling local roads in properly marked vehicles and providing local farm produce markets near farming areas. These activities can and do generate dust, smoke, noise, vibration and odor and may occur on holidays, Sundays, and weekends, in both the night and the day. Such activities are presumed to be reasonable and do not constitute a nuisance unless the activity has a substantial adverse effect on the public health, safety and welfare.
Notice by Town agencies. The Town Board and the Town Planning Board shall, as part of any approval of any real property development occurring within 1,000 linear feet of any property five acres in area or greater which is encumbered by an agricultural easement or is within an agricultural district created via § 300 et seq. of the Agriculture and Markets Law, at the time of such approval, provide for notice of protected farm practices. In this regard, the Planning Board shall cause all final realty subdivision maps and condominium maps to bear a notation that the agriculture use of the particular agricultural land is protected by the regulation of this chapter. Further, the Town Board shall cause all final site plans to bear a notation that the agricultural use of such property is protected by the regulations of this chapter. The notice of protected farm practices shall be further included in any permanent covenants and restrictions which are filed as a condition of a development approval. In the event that, through either the subdivision review process or the site plan review process, areas of land are encumbered by an agricultural easement in favor of the Town of Riverhead, a notice of protected farm practices shall be included in such permanent covenants and restrictions.
Enforcement. Failure to comply with any provision of this chapter shall constitute a violation.
Purpose. Pursuant to the provisions of § 247 of the New York State General Municipal Law, fee simple owners of agricultural lands may elect to sell and the Town may elect to purchase development rights associated with said lands pursuant to the conditions, limitations, terms and provisions as set forth in this section.
Acquisition of development rights.
The Town Board shall solicit offers for sale to the Town of development rights to be severed from agricultural lands existing within the Town of Riverhead.
Upon the receipt of any offer of development rights for purchase, and subsequent to the acceptance of a real estate appraisal setting forth the market value of the development rights to be acquired, the Town Board shall conduct a public hearing on the question of the acceptance of any such offer(s). Such notice of public hearing shall be duly noticed in the official paper of the Town of Riverhead a minimum of 10 days prior to such hearing. The landowner shall cause a sign to be erected upon the real property indicating the time and place of such hearing, the location of which shall conform to § 105-8E of Chapter 105, Article II, Appeals, Board of, of the Code of the Town of Riverhead. Further, the property owner shall, 10 days prior to such hearing, notify, by certified, return-receipt-requested mail, all owners of real property adjacent to the property and, by regular mail, all property owners within 1,000 feet of the property for which development right acquisition is being considered. An affidavit attesting to this notification shall be presented to the Town Board prior to the hearing.
[Amended 12-1-1998 by L.L. No. 16-1998]
Within 45 days after the conclusion of the public hearing, the Town Board shall adopt a resolution either accepting or rejecting such offer or offers. Prior to any decision by the Town Board upon the acceptance of offers, the Farmland Preservation Committee shall have issued a written recommendation to the Town Board.
The instrument of conveyance transferring the development rights to the Town shall be executed by the Supervisor on the behalf of the Town, as well as the grantor, and shall contain a covenant specifically setting forth the limitations on the alienation of the development rights as well as the limitations on the use and the enjoyment of the estate or interest reserved by the grantor as the same are set forth as of the date of the contract for sale of said development rights.
Unless authorized by further amendment to this chapter, development rights acquired by the Town may be alienated exclusively for sale to the County of Suffolk.