Agriculture & Markets - Agricultural Districts - Agricultural districts; creation


Published: 2016-05-27

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§ 303. Agricultural districts; creation. 1. Any owner or owners of
land may submit a proposal to the county legislative body for the
creation of an agricultural district within such county, provided that
such owner or owners own at least two hundred fifty acres of the land
proposed to be included in the district. Such proposal shall be
submitted in such manner and form as may be prescribed by the
commissioner, shall include a description of the proposed district,
including a map delineating the exterior boundaries of the district
which shall conform to tax parcel boundaries, and the tax map
identification numbers for every parcel in the proposed district. The
proposal shall include a review period of eight years.

2. Upon the receipt of such a proposal, the county legislative body:

a. shall thereupon provide notice of such proposal by publishing a
notice in a newspaper having general circulation within the proposed
district and by posting a notice on the home page of the county's
website; posting such notice in five conspicuous places within the
proposed district; and providing such notice in writing by first class
mail to those municipalities whose territory encompasses the proposed
district. The notice shall contain the following information:

(1) a statement that a proposal for an agricultural district has been
filed with the county legislative body pursuant to this article;

(2) a statement that the proposal will be on file open to public
inspection in the county clerk's office;

(3) a statement that any county landowner or municipality whose
territory encompasses the proposed district may propose a modification
of the proposed district in such form and manner as may be prescribed by
the commissioner;

(4) a statement that the proposed modification must be filed with the
county clerk and the clerk of the county legislature within thirty days
of the publication and posting and mailing of such notice; and

(5) a statement that at the termination of the thirty day period, the
proposal and proposed modifications will be submitted to the county
agricultural and farmland protection board and that thereafter a public
hearing will be held on the proposal, proposed modifications, and
recommendations of the county agricultural and farmland protection
board;

b. shall receive any proposals for modifications of such proposal
which may be submitted by proponents of the district, any county
landowners or municipalities within thirty days of the publication and
posting and mailing of such notice;

c. shall, upon the termination of such thirty day period, refer such
proposal and proposed modifications to the county agricultural and
farmland protection board, which shall, after consultation with the
county planning board, within forty-five days report to the county
legislative body its recommendations concerning the proposal and
proposed modifications; and

d. shall hold a public hearing in the following manner:

(1) The hearing shall be held at a place within the proposed district
or otherwise readily accessible to the proposed district;

(2) The notice shall contain the following information:

(a) a statement of the time, date and place of the public hearing;

(b) a description of the proposed district, any proposed additions and
any recommendations of the county agricultural and farmland protection
board; and

(c) a statement that the public hearing will be held concerning:

(i) the original proposal;

(ii) any written amendments proposed during the thirty day review
period; and

(iii) any recommendations proposed by the county agricultural and
farmland protection board;

(3) The notice shall be published in a newspaper having a general
circulation within the proposed district and posted on the home page of
the county's website and shall be given in writing by first class mail
to those municipalities whose territory encompasses the proposed
district and any proposed modifications, owners of real property within
such a proposed district or any proposed modifications who are listed on
the most recent assessment roll, the commissioner and the advisory
council on agriculture.

3. The following factors shall be considered by the county
agricultural and farmland protection board and identified as issues for
comment at the public hearing:

a. the viability of active farming within the proposed district and in
areas adjacent thereto;

b. the presence of any viable farm lands within the proposed district
and adjacent thereto that are not now in active farming;

c. the nature and extent of land uses other than active farming within
the proposed district and adjacent thereto;

d. county developmental patterns and needs; and

e. any other matters which the county legislative body deems to be
relevant.

In judging viability, any relevant agricultural viability maps
prepared by the commissioner shall be considered, as well as soil,
climate, topography, other natural factors, markets for farm products,
the extent and nature of farm improvements, the present status of
farming, anticipated trends in agricultural economic conditions and
technology, and such other factors as may be relevant.

4. The county legislative body, after receiving the report and
recommendations, including any recommendations of the county planning
board, of the county agricultural and farmland protection board and
after such public hearing, may adopt as a plan the proposal or any
modification of the proposal it deems appropriate or may act to reject
the proposal.

5. All plans that are adopted shall include: (a) a review period of
eight years; (b) only whole tax parcels in the proposed district; and
(c) to the extent feasible, include adjacent viable farm lands, and
exclude, to the extent feasible, nonviable farm land and non-farm land.

6. Upon the adoption of a plan, the county legislative body shall
submit it to the commissioner. Adopted plans shall be submitted within
one year after receipt of a complete proposal as described in
subdivision one of this section. The commissioner may, upon application
by the county legislative body and for good cause shown, extend the
period for submission once for up to six additional months.

7. The commissioner shall have sixty days after receipt of the plan
within which to certify to the county legislative body whether the plan
is eligible for districting, whether the area to be districted consists
predominantly of viable agricultural land, and whether the plan of the
proposed district is feasible, and will serve the public interest by
assisting in maintaining a viable agricultural industry within the
district and the state. The commissioner shall submit a copy of such
plan to the advisory council on agriculture.

8. If the commissioner certifies the plan of the proposed district
pursuant to subdivision seven of this section, the district shall be
created immediately upon certification.

9. Upon the creation of an agricultural district, the description
thereof, which shall include tax map identification numbers for all
parcels within the district, plus a map delineating the exterior
boundaries of the district in relation to tax parcel boundaries, shall
be filed by the county legislative body with the county clerk, the
county director of real property tax services, and the commissioner. The
commissioner, on petition of the county legislative body, may, for good
cause shown, approve the correction of any errors in materials filed
pursuant to a district creation at any time subsequent to the creation
of any agricultural district.