[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Norwell 5-3-2016, Art. 53. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose and intent of this bylaw is to state with emphasis the right to farm accorded to all citizens of the Commonwealth under Article 97 of the Constitution, and all 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 Norwell 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 encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities and protects farmlands and forests within the Town of Norwell by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and Town agencies. This bylaw shall apply to all jurisdictional areas within the Town.
The word "farm" shall include any parcel or contiguous parcels of land or water bodies used for the primary purpose of commercial agriculture, or accessory thereto.
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, aquacultural, floricultural, viticulture or horticultural commodities including orchards;
Growing and harvesting of forest products upon forest land, and any other forestry or lumbering operations;
Raising and/or boarding of livestock including horses;
Keeping and/or training of horses as a commercial enterprise; and
Keeping and raising of poultry, swine, cattle, ratites (such as emus, ostriches and rheas) and camelids (such as llamas and alpacas) and other domesticated animals for food and other agricultural purposes, including bees and fur-bearing animals.
"Farming" shall encompass activities including, but not limited to, the following:
Operation and transportation of slow-moving farm equipment over roads within the Town;
Control of pests, including, but not limited to, insects, weeds, predators and disease organism of plants and animals;
Application and storage of manure, fertilizers and pesticides under generally accepted management practices;
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;
Processing and packaging of the agricultural output of the farm and the operation of a farmer's market or farm stand including signage thereto;
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 the agricultural products;
On farm relocation of earth and the clearing of ground for farming operations; and
Maintaining drainage or irrigation ditches; picking stone; constructing, repairing or maintaining fences; and clearing, renovating and maintaining pastures including using the practice of prescription burning.
The right to farm is hereby recognized to exist within the Town of Norwell. 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. It is hereby determined that whatever impact may be caused to others through the normal practice of agriculture is more than offset by the benefits of farming to the neighborhood, community and society in general. 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. 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.
In order to ensure that prospective owners and tenants are aware of the policy of the Town of Norwell expressed in this bylaw regarding agricultural uses, the following notification shall be prominently posted in the Norwell Town Hall, the Norwell Library and on the Town of Norwell website within 30 days of this bylaw becoming effective. In addition, the notification language required by this section shall appear each year in the Town's Annual Report.
It is the policy of this community to conserve, protect and encourage the maintenance and improvement of forest and agricultural lands 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 and occupants are also informed that the location of property within the Town may be impacted by commercial agricultural and farming activities.
Property owners should make efforts to inform prospective tenants or buyers that Norwell is a "Right to Farm" community.
Any person having a complaint about a farm activity or practice is encouraged to seek an amicable resolution to the complaint, including talking directly with the involved farmer.
Any person who seeks to complain about the operation of a farm may, notwithstanding pursuing any other available remedy, file a grievance with the Board of Selectmen, the Building Inspector/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 Board of Health, except in cases of imminent danger or public health risk, may forward a copy of the grievance to the Board of Selectmen, which shall review and 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 Norwell hereby declares the provisions of this bylaw to be severable.