[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of South Hadley 1-11-2017 STM by Art. 14. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose and intent of this bylaw is to restate the right to farm accorded to all citizens of the commonwealth under Article 97 of the Constitution, and all state 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. We the citizens of South Hadley 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").
This general bylaw supports the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands within the Town of South Hadley by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and Town agencies, when done in compliance with state laws and Town bylaws and regulations. Nothing in this bylaw should be construed to allow a use not already permitted by the Zoning Bylaw, private covenant, or state or local law.
The words "farming" or "agriculture" or their derivatives shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
Farming in all its branches and the cultivation and tillage of the soil;
Production, cultivation, growing, and harvesting of any agricultural, floricultural, viticultural, or horticultural commodities;
Growing and harvesting of forest products upon forest land;
Breeding of livestock, including horses;
Keeping and raising of poultry, swine, cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits, ratites (such as emus, ostriches and rheas) and camelids (such as llamas and camels), and other domesticated animals for food and other agricultural purposes, including bees and fur-bearing animals such as mink.
"Farming" shall encompass activities including, but not limited to, the following:
Operation and transportation of slow-moving and/or oversized farm equipment over roads within the Town;
Use of legally established rights-of-way over private property;
Control of pests and application of manure, fertilizers and pesticides, as permitted under and in compliance with state law;
Conducting agriculture-related educational and farm-based recreational activities, including agritourism, provided that the activities are related to marketing the agricultural output or services of the farm; maintenance, repair, or storage of seasonal equipment, or apparatus owned or leased by the farm owner or manager used expressly for the purpose of propagation, processing, management, or sale of agricultural products, insofar as not in conflict with Town bylaws; and
On-farm relocation of earth and the clearing of ground for farming operations, insofar as permitted by the Wetlands Protection Act and Town regulations.
The right to farm is hereby recognized to exist within the Town of South Hadley. 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 bylaw are intended to apply exclusively to those commercial agricultural and farming operations and activities conducted in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices and local zoning and other regulations. Moreover, nothing in this Right to Farm Bylaw 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, or other bylaw or regulation.
Within 30 days after this bylaw becomes effective, the Selectboard shall prominently post in the Town Hall the following disclosure:
"It is the policy of this community to conserve, protect and support 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 or occupants that the property they are about to acquire or occupy 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. Buyers or occupants are also informed that the location of property within the Town may be affected by commercial agricultural operations."
Any person who seeks to complain about the operation of a farm may, notwithstanding pursuing any other available remedy, file a grievance with the Selectboard, the Zoning Enforcement Officer, or the Board of Health, depending upon the nature of the grievance. The filing of the grievance does not suspend the time within which to pursue any other available remedies that the aggrieved may have. The Zoning Enforcement Officer or Selectboard may forward a copy of the grievance to the Agricultural Commission or its agent, which shall review and attempt to facilitate the resolution of the grievance, and report its recommendations to the referring Town authority within an agreed-upon time frame.
The Board of Health, except in cases of imminent danger or public health risk, may forward a copy of the grievance to the Agricultural Commission or its agent, which shall review and attempt to facilitate the resolution of the grievance, and report its recommendations to the Board of Health within an agreed-upon time frame.
If any part of this bylaw is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, such decision shall not affect the remainder of this bylaw. The Town of South Hadley hereby declares the provisions of this bylaw to be severable.