Section 50 Right-to-farm
1: Purpose and Intent
The purpose and intent of this By-law is to state with emphasis the Right to Farm accorded to all citizens of the Commonwealth under article 97, of the Constitution, and all state statutes and regulations there under including but not limited to MA General Laws Chapter 40A, Section 3, Paragraph 1; Chapter 90, Section 9, Chapter 111, Section 125A and Chapter 128 Section 1A. We the citizens of Huntington restate and republish these rights pursuant to the Town’s authority conferred by Article 89 of the Articles of Amendment of Massachusetts Constitution (Home Rule).
This General By-Law encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands within the Town of Huntington by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and Town agencies. This By-Law shall apply to all jurisdictional areas within the Town.
The intent of this by-law is to:
- ~ Protect and promote the pursuit of agricultural enterprises and the benefits to the community provided by local agriculture by allowing agricultural uses and activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and town agencies.
- ~ Inform Huntington property owners and buyers of this by-law through a notification process.
- ~ Provide assistance with dispute resolution if a conflict should arise between a citizen or the town and owners and operators of land used for farming or agricultural purposes.
- ~ Not supercede any Zoning or General by-laws of the Town, or any State or Federal laws or regulations.
Section 2: Definitions
The word “farm” shall include any parcel or parcels of land, or water bodies used for the primary purpose of commercial agriculture, or accessory thereto. Farming in all its branches and the cultivation and tillage of the soil, including but not limited to the following:
- ~ Dairying and orchards;
- ~ Production, cultivation, growing, and harvesting of any agricultural, aqua cultural, floricultural, viticulture, or horticultural commodities;
- ~ Growing and harvesting of forest products upon forest land, and any other forestry or lumbering operations;
- ~ Raising of livestock including horses;
- ~ Keeping of horses as a commercial enterprise; and;
- ~ Keeping and raising of poultry, sheep, goats, fowl, swine, cattle, ratites (such as emus, ostriches and rheas) and camelids (such as llamas and camels), and other domesticated animals for food and other agricultural purposes, including bees and fur-bearing animals.
For the purpose of this by-law “Farming” or “Agriculture” may include, but not be limited to the following activities:
- ~ Operation and transportation of slow-moving farm equipment over the roads within the town;
- ~ Control of pests, including insects but not limited to, weeds, predators, and disease organisms of plants and animals; application and storage of manure and fertilizers and pesticides;
- ~ Growing, harvesting, processing and selling of forest products;
- ~ Conducting agriculture-related educational and farm-based recreational activities including agri-tourism that are related to marketing the agricultural output or services of the farm;
- ~ Processing and packaging of the agricultural output of the farm;
- ~ Operation of a farm stand to sell products of the farm;
- ~ Maintenance, repair, or storage of seasonal equipment, or apparatus owned or leased by the farm owner or manager and used expressly for the purpose of propagation, harvesting, managing, or marketing of the farm’s agricultural products;
- ~ On-farm relocation of earth and clearing of ground for farming operations;
- ~ Constructing and maintaining farm buildings used for shelter, feed and storage;
- ~ Revitalizing drainage or irrigation ditches; picking stone; constructing, repairing or maintaining fences; and clearing, rejuvenation and maintaining agricultural land.
Section 3: Right to Farm Declaration
The right to farm is hereby recognized to exist within the Town of Huntington. It is acknowledged by the Town that the benefits of farming such as the positive contribution of agriculture to the local economy; the availability of fresh food, fiber, and forest products; and the maintenance of the rural character and agricultural heritage of Huntington far outweigh incidental nuisances such as noise, lighting, odors, dust and fumes associated with all, but not limited to, the above described agricultural activities which may occur on holidays, weekdays, and weekends by day or night. The benefits and protections of the by-law are intended to apply exclusively to the actual activities of farming. This by-law does not supersede any Zoning or General By-Laws of the Town, or any State or Federal laws or regulations.
Section 4: Disclosure Notification
The Town Collector will send current landowners a copy of the following disclosure notification to be included in the mailing of the tax bill, in the Annual Town Report and with any request for a municipal lien certificate.
Notification: Not later than 21 days after the purchase and sale contract is entered into, or prior to the sale or exchange of real property if no purchase and sale agreement exits, for the purchase or exchange of real property, or prior to the acquisition of a leasehold interest or other possessory interest in real property, located in the Town of Huntington, the landowner shall present the buyer or occupant with a disclosure notification which states the following: "It is the policy of this community to conserve, protect and encourage the maintenance and improvement of agricultural land 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 or occupants are also informed that the location of property within the Town may be impacted by commercial agricultural operations including the ability to access water services for such property under certain circumstances." A copy of the disclosure notification shall be given on a form prepared by the Town and shall be signed by the landowner prior to the sale, purchase, exchange or occupancy of such real property. A copy of the disclosure notification must be filed with the Selectboard or its designee prior to the sale, purchase, exchange or occupancy of such real property. Forms will be made available at the Town Clerk’s Office, P. O. Box 523, or call (413) 667-3186.
Section 5: Dispute Resolution
Any person who seeks to complain about the operation of a farm may file a grievance with the Selectboard, Zoning Enforcement Officer, or 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 Zoning Enforcement Officer or Selectboard shall forward a copy of the grievance to the Agricultural Commission or its agent which shall review and facilitate a proposed resolution of the grievance, and report its recommendations to the referring Town authority within an agreed upon time frame.
The Board of Health shall, except in cases of imminent danger or public health risk, forward a copy of the grievance to the Agricultural Commission or its agent, which shall facilitate a proposed resolution of the grievance, and report its recommendation to the Board of Health within sixty (60) days.
Section 6: Severability
The provisions of the by-law are severable. If any part of this by-law is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, that provision can be severed from the by-law without affecting the remaining provisions.