[See also Chapter 14, Right to Farm.]
[Ord. No. 2002/15 § 1]
The Township Committee finds and declares that:
The retention of agricultural activities would serve the best interest of all citizens of Hardwick Township by insuring the numerous social, economic and environmental benefits which accrue from one of the largest industries in the Garden State;
Several factors have combined to create a situation wherein the regulations of various State agencies and the ordinances of individual municipalities may unnecessarily constrain essential farm practices;
It is necessary to establish a systematic and continuing effort to examine the effect of governmental regulation on the agricultural industry;
All State departments and agencies thereof should encourage the maintenance of agricultural production and a positive agricultural business climate;
It is the express intention of this ordinance to establish as the policy of this Township the protection of commercial farm operations from nuisance action, where recognized methods and techniques of agricultural production are applied, while, at the same time, acknowledging the need to provide a proper balance among the varied and sometimes conflicting interests of all lawful activities in New Jersey.
[Ord. No. 2002/15 § 2]
This chapter shall not be construed as a Zoning Ordinance and does not supersede any Zoning Ordinance and the rights and privileges arising from said ordinance. It is the intent of this chapter to prohibit farming from being found to be a nuisance when practiced according to customary farming practices.
[Ord. No. 2002/15 § 3]
The right to farm those lands and properties zoned for that use and properties currently being farmed within the Township of Hardwick is hereby recognized to exist as a right of the farmer, his agents or assigns to utilize his land and properties in such a manner as to pursue his livelihood, subject only to the restrictions and regulations set forth in the Township, County and State health codes and regulations. This right to farm recognizes the use of large irrigation pumps and equipment, aerial and ground seeding and spraying, large tractors, trucks and trailers and the application of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides, as well as other customary farm equipment utilized by the farmer for the purpose of producing from the land agricultural products, such as vegetables, grains, hay, fruits, fibers, wood, trees, plants, shrubs, flowers and seeds. The right to farm shall also include the right to utilize the land for grazing of animals, subject to the restrictions for intensive fowl or livestock farms or such restrictions as may be required by County, State and Federal laws, and the right to use and park motor vehicles actively used and necessary in the seasonal operation of a farm where farming is the primary activity conducted on the property.
[Ord. No. 2002/15 § 4]
The activities set forth herein incidental to the right to farm, when reasonable and necessary for the particular farming activity and livestock or fowl production and when conducted in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices, may occur on holidays, Sundays and weekdays and at night and during the day. The noise, odors, dust and fumes that are caused by these activities are recognized as ancillary to the permitted activities set forth in this chapter and the right to farm.
[Ord. No. 2002/15 § 5; Ord. No. 2003/05 § 1]
The Township of Hardwick recognizes the benefits to society, the community, and its neighborhoods, from horticulture, commercial and home agriculture, and animal husbandry, known hereafter as "farming," in its preservation of open space and aesthetics of the rural countryside and the supplying of present and future generations with the bounties resulting from such activities. In doing so, the Township of Hardwick has determined that such farming activities and uses are necessary to humankind, and that the right to carry on such pursuits should be protected for the benefit of all the residents of the Township of Hardwick.
The Township of Hardwick determines that the right to farm a lot at least five (5) acres, excluding the dwelling unit, is a natural right, and is hereby ordained to exist as a permitted use everywhere in the Township of Hardwick, regardless of zoning designations and regardless of whether specified as permitted uses therein.
The Township of Hardwick hereby adopts by reference all of the provisions of the New Jersey Right To Farm Act, N.J.S.A. 4:1C-1 et seq.
Notwithstanding the provisions of any other municipal ordinance, resolution, or regulation to the contrary, the owner or operator of a commercial farm which is in operation conforming to agricultural management practices recommended by the State Agriculture Development Committee, or whose specific operation or practice has been determined by the Warren County Agriculture Development Board to constitute a generally accepted agricultural operation or practice, and all relevant Federal or State statutes or rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto, and which does not pose a direct threat to public health and safety may:
Produce agricultural and horticultural crops, trees and forest products, livestock, and poultry and other commodities as described in the Standard Industrial Classification for agriculture, forestry, fishing and trapping.
Process and package the agricultural output of the commercial farm.
Provide for the operation of a farm market, including the construction of building and parking areas in conformance with municipal standards.
Replenish soil nutrients and improve soil tilth.
Control pests, predators and diseases of plants and animals.
Clear woodlands using open burning and other techniques, install and maintain vegetative and terrain alterations and other physical facilities for water and soil conservation and surface water control in wetland areas.
Conduct on-site disposal of organic agricultural wastes.
Conduct agriculture-related educational and farm based recreational activities, provided that the activities are related to marketing the agricultural or horticultural output of the farm.
Engage in any other agricultural activity as determined by the State Agriculture Development Committee and adopted by rule or regulation pursuant to the provisions of the "Administrative Procedure Act."
In all relevant actions filed regarding any activity authorized herein, there shall exist an irrebuttable presumption that no commercial agricultural operation, activity or structure which conforms to agricultural management practices recommended by the State Agriculture Development Committee or the Warren County Agriculture Development Committee whose specific operation or practice has been determined to constitute a generally accepted agricultural operation or practice, and all relevant Federal or State statutes or rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto and which does not pose a direct threat to public health and safety, shall constitute a public or private nuisance, nor shall any such operation, activity or structure with the use or structure be deemed to otherwise invade or interfere with the use and enjoyment of any other land or property.
All agricultural operations set forth in paragraph d are hereby declared exempt from enforcement of all municipal ordinances and regulations which inhibit efficient crop production, including but not limited to ordinances and regulations imposing time limits on operations, dust limits and odor restrictions except those ordinances and regulations which are strictly necessary for the maintenance of public health, as determined by the Hardwick Township Board of Health.
Filing of Complaint; Process.
Any person aggrieved by the operation of a commercial farm shall file a complaint with the Warren County Agriculture Development Board prior to filing an action in court of competent jurisdiction.
In the event the dispute concerns activities that are addressed by an agricultural management practice recommended by the State Agriculture Development Committee, the County Board shall hold a public hearing and issue findings and recommendations within sixty (60) days of the receipt of the complaint.
In the event the State Agriculture Development Committee has not recommended an agricultural management practice concerning activities addressed by a complaint, the County Board shall forward the complaint to the State Committee for a determination of whether the disputed agricultural operation constitutes a generally accepted agricultural operation or practice. Upon receipt of the complaint, the State Committee shall hold a public hearing and issue its decision, in writing, to the County Board. The County Board shall hold a public hearing and issue its findings and recommendations within sixty (60) days of the receipt of the State Committee's decision.
Any person aggrieved by the decision of the County Board shall appeal the decision to the State Agriculture Development Committee within ten (10) days. The State Committee shall schedule a hearing and make a determination within ninety (90) days of receipt of the petition for review.
The decision of the State Agriculture Development Committee shall be binding, subject to the right of appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court. Any decision of the Warren County Agriculture Development Board that is not appealed shall be binding.
Deed Conveyance; Notification.
Each deed of conveyance of land, and subsequent deed or conveyance of land, in any zone, prepared after the effective date of this paragraph and each offering of sale of land shall contain a recital as follows:
"Hardwick Township acknowledges that a substantial quantity of land is devoted to active agricultural uses and a right to farm exists in the township. Therefore, the grantee, his or her heirs and assigns are hereby on notice that lands in any zone in the township may be actively farmed and that the farmer of these lands has the continued right to farm under the provisions of the land use regulations of Hardwick Township."
This recital shall be included in all deeds as above-noted until such time as the lands being conveyed are no longer adjacent, abutted or reasonably contiguous to any lands which would qualify for protection under this act.