[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Goshen 2-10-2005 by L.L. No. 2-2005. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The State of New York, by various legislative enactments, including but not limited to General Municipal Law § 247 and Environmental Conservation Law § 49-0301, has emphatically stated it to be a most important state policy to provide for open space and to conserve, protect and encourage the improvement of agricultural lands, both for production of food and the preservation of such lands as valued natural and ecological resources. The Legislature has determined that the acquisition of open spaces is a valid public purpose and that the expenditure of Town funds to acquire legal interests and rights in such lands is in furtherance of such policy, and is a proper expenditure of public funds for public purposes.
The Town of Goshen is in complete accord with such policy as evidenced in the Town of Goshen Open Space and Farmland Protection Plan adopted July 2003 and incorporated into the Town of Goshen Comprehensive Plan adopted July 2004 which recommends the following action:
Given current development trends, the Town of Goshen must become proactive in identifying and preserving additional open space meeting one or more of the benefits outlined earlier in this plan.
It is recommended that the Town pursue options to establish and build a dedicated fund for the acquisition of open space including full fee title, conservation easements, development rights, and options for purchase where appropriate. Term easements may also be utilized where applicable. Such a fund starts with the use of payment of lieu of land dedications through residential subdivision approvals. A fund can also be built from creative use of incentive zoning, municipal bonding, private donations and taxation options.
The Town Board further moved toward a local funding for the acquisition of open spaces, particularly PDR, by placing the bonding proposition on the November 2, 2004, general election ballot. A majority of voters in the Town approved that proposition authorizing the expenditure of $5,000,000 for the acquisition of open spaces including, among other things, development rights.
This chapter is intended to indicate generally, and in some instances particulars, the procedures which will be employed by the Town in its pursuit of its goal to protect and conserve open spaces and agricultural lands.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- AGRICULTURAL LANDS
- Lands used in bona fide agricultural production located in an agricultural district and receiving agricultural assessment.
- AGRICULTURAL USE AND PRODUCTION
- The use and production for commercial purposes, of all those items and products as defined in New York State Agriculture and Markets Law § 301, including, but not limited to, plants and animals useful to man including fruits, viniculture, nuts, vegetables, greenhouse plants, tree nursery, Christmas trees, forages, sod crops, grains, feed crops, dairy, processing of on-farm-produced dairy products, all domestic livestock for breeding and grazing and the equine industry, aquaculture, hydroponics and other similar uses and activities.
- The transfer or sale of any development right in real property from or by the Town of Goshen to another qualified person or entity.
- CONSERVATION EASEMENT
- An easement in gross that restricts the use of real property to conservation and related purposes described in a deed of easement or other legal document.
- DEED OR CONTRACT OF EASEMENT
- Legal document which convey and/or restrict the use of legal interests in land.
- DEVELOPMENT RIGHT
- As authorized by § 247 of the New York State General Municipal Law, as amended, shall mean the permanent legal interest and right to permit, require or restrict the use of the premises exclusively for passive open space and agricultural production, as the term is currently defined in § 301 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, and the right to prohibit or restrict the use of the premises for any purpose other than agricultural production and passive open space.
- INTEREST or RIGHT
- Any legally recognized interest and right in real property less than fee simple.
- NEGOTIATION BEYOND FIXED CONTRACT FACTORS
- Specific modification to standard agreements, easements, or other standard documents which furthers program interests.
- OPEN SPACE
- Parcels of land that are or may be part of a significant viewshed, harbor endangered species or abundant animal habitat, protect a vital aquifer, be adjacent to an existing conservation easement parcel, proximate to a public facility, contain a year-round stream or body of water, have an historic structure (or structures), proven native American landmarks and artifacts or border a scenic road.
- OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE
- The Goshen Open Space Preservation Committee.
- The ability of soils to absorb and transmit water from the surface toward the subsoil without artificial or natural barrier. This term relates to the qualitative evaluation of soils for agricultural purposes.
- Anything constructed, erected or moved from other premises, and located in, on or under the ground, or attached to anything in, on or under the ground including fences.
The Open Space Preservation Board is hereby constituted as a continuing agency of the Town of Goshen.
It shall consist of nine members, each of whom shall be appointed by the Town Board. This group will consist of at least one farmer, two non-Goshenites, with experience in open space preservation and not more than one Town Board member.
A Chair shall be annually elected by the members of the board and may succeed him/herself for additional terms not exceeding five years.
The Open Space Board shall have the authority to:
Solicit applications from eligible landowners for PDR of qualified properties.
Encourage owners of lands contiguous with already preserved lands and/or presently agriculturally assessed lands, to submit application for PDR in order to establish/maintain a critical open space mass.
Meet to review all applications submitted, and, within 30 days of submission of any application, rank the application using the ranking system set forth in the Open Space and Farmland Protection Plan, dated July 2003 and included in the Comprehensive Plan, which system may be amended from time to time by the Town Board.
[Amended 2-23-2009 by L.L. No. 1-2009]
Prepare a report to the Town Board providing the score and reasons supporting the score of an application and including a recommendation regarding the extent of rights to be required, if any.
Hold yearly informational meetings.
Offer help with the PDR application process.
Visit landowners who are potential applicants for PDR.
Monitor, or make provision therefor, each deed-restricted parcel yearly to insure that regulations of PDR are properly observed. File a written report on each parcel, and notify owner in writing, of any noted infraction.
Review any matters relating to development rights in particular as they relate to the Town.
Promulgate, subject to Town Board approval, such procedural rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the intent of this chapter, and to administer its provisions including evaluation and ranking of applicants for purchase of development rights.
The Town of Goshen Open Space Preservation and Acquisition Fund (the "fund") is hereby established.
Deposits into the fund may include revenues of the Town from whatever source and shall include, at a minimum, all revenues from or for the amortization of indebtedness authorized for the acquisition of open spaces pursuant to § 246 of the Town Law.
Editor's Note: So in original. This citation should refer to § 246 of the General Municipal Law.
The fund shall also be authorized to accept gifts. Interest accrued by monies deposited in the fund shall be credited to the fund.
In no event shall monies deposited in the fund be transferred to any other fund or account.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to prevent the financing, in whole or in part, pursuant to the New York State Local Finance Law, of any acquisition authorized by this chapter. Monies from the fund may be utilized to repay any indebtedness or obligations incurred pursuant to the Local Finance Law, consistent with effectuating the purposes of this chapter.
The acquisition of interest and rights in real property under the fund shall be in cooperation with willing sellers.
No interests or rights in real property shall be acquired pursuant to this chapter until a public hearing is held. However, nothing herein shall prevent the Town Board from entering into a conditional purchase agreement before a public hearing is held.
No land or rights in land shall be acquired in a village within the Town unless such village has consented to such acquisition.
Any resolution of the Town Board approving an acquisition of land pursuant to this chapter shall include a finding that such acquisition was the best alternative for the protection of such lands available for the Town, that such acquisition was in furtherance of goals for the equitable allocation of open space acquisition bond funds (if applicable) and that acquisition was in furtherance of other applicable program goals.
No lands acquired pursuant to this chapter shall be alienated except by vote of a super-majority (a majority plus one) of the Town Board, subject to permissive referendum pursuant to the procedures found in Article 7 of the Town Law.
Upon announcement of any round of grants for PDR, two Open Space Board members may be selected to study the RFP (request for proposal), check all applications for completeness, draft the proposal and submit by the deadline to the granting authority. The Open Space Board may, to the extent appropriated funds are available, hire a grant writer to be retained by the Town in order to facilitate and enhance the receipt of grants.
The Town Board may accept the gift of open spaces, or rights thereto, on terms and conditions acceptable to the Town Board. If so designated, such lands and or rights, including, among other things, development rights, shall be deemed to have been acquired under the Open Space Preservation program.
The Town Board shall distribute the authorized open space acquisition bond funds in a manner consistent with the contribution from each school district. To determine the amount, the Town shall consult with Town Assessor concerning the taxable valuation in each of the following school districts: Goshen School District and Florida Union Free School District.
The Town will use the appropriate portion of the authorized open space acquisition bond funds to purchase property, preferably parkland, in the school districts of preferably, but not limited to, property not currently on the tax rolls.
If the Town purchases village-owned property, the Town and village will enter into a purchase agreement to specify the types of uses for which the funds can be used to preserve or enhance open space. Any purchase agreement should also provide that the Town will not be required to maintain or develop the property unless agreed upon by the parties.
The Open Space Board shall have access to the Town Attorney and/or the Deputy Town Attorney in matters requiring legal opinion.
Notwithstanding the provisions of any special law, charter law, local law or resolution which may be inconsistent herewith, in whole or in part, this chapter shall in all respects control in the matter of acquisition of development rights in qualified parcels.