Warren County among areas impacted by people in new developments
WHITE TOWNSHIP — Holding weddings on a farm is a great idea, but it’s not covered by Right to Farm laws, Warren County Land Preservation Administrator Corey Tierney reminded a room full of farmers at the county’s Agriculture Information Day on Saturday, Jan. 25.
Tierney gave a talk on right-to-farm during the break-out sessions at the morning-long event.
Not so long ago, farming was the major business in Warren County, but suburban development has given farmers neighbors who aren’t always sympathetic to their needs.
Neighbors may not be happy about everything that goes on in farming, but as long as the farm complies with relevant legislation and does not pose a threat to health and safety, the neighbors don’t have recourse.
Farmers just need to make sure all of their activities are covered under the Right-to-Farm statute.
Other activities are fine, but must be established under existing zoning ordinances.
Tierney reminded the farmers that the County Agricultural Development Board exists to protect them. He also noted the CADB eliminates the need to deal with the court system in case of complaints.
Farmers can waive their rights before the CADB and go to court, but, if that fails, they cannot go back to the board.
If a farmer is unsuccessful at the county level, he or she can go to the state, but that happens only rarely, Tierney said.
It’s not only neighbors who have to approach the CADB with any problem, Tierney noted.
Municipal officials also have to go to the board if they perceive a zoning violation, although usually towns work things out with the farmers.
The CADB also settles disputes between farmers.
He noted Warren County farmers are still luckier than many in more suburbanized areas in that their non-farm neighbors tend to be more used to rural life.
Tierney addressed some concerns from the audience about farmland preservation.
Some said a parcel in Pennsylvania was dropped from the program, which is supposed to be preserved “in perpetuity.”
Tierney acknowledged the laws governing preservation or right-to-farm could be changed in some ways, but that would inevitably trigger lawsuits.
He noted the farmland preservation statute is more restrictive than the laws that govern open space under the state Green Acres program and it is very complicated to make alterations to Green Acres lands. In reference to the Grown Warren program, Tierney said Warren County is trying to establish a regional food hub in conjunction with the Foodshed Alliance.
Eric Derby, representing the Foodshed Alliance, said they are offering plots to farmers with two to three years of experience.
“We’re not educators,” Derby emphasized, noting the Alliance is attempted to provide affordable land to those who already know how to work it.
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