New York

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Local Laws and Agricultural Districts: How Do They Relate?

This brochure has been prepared by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to assist municipalities in drafting and administering local laws and ordinances which may affect farming in an agricultural district. It should not be substituted for legal advice from a municipality’s attorney. The brochure also offers guidance to farmers and municipalities on the application of Section 305-a.

Municipal Reference for Agricultural Land Use Planning

The Municipal Reference for Agricultural Land Use Planning is a tool for local leaders when confronted with agricultural issues. The document addresses agricultural practices which include:
• Scope of agriculture and agricultural activities
• New York State Agriculture and Markets Law (AML) Article 25AA – Agricultural
Districts Law
• Land use planning including zoning, purchase or transfer of development rights
• Environmental regulations
• Herbicide and pesticide applications

Local Open Space Planning Guide

This local open space planning guide is intended to help interested local governments develop and implement local open space conservation programs. It will assist local officials, private organizations and individual citizens in preparing and implementing their own open space plans or open space components of their local comprehensive plans. The methods and suggestions in the handbook can be applied in rural communities, suburban towns or densely developed cities.

Investing in our Future: Farms, Food and Fuel in New York State

With ever-growing public interest in everything from food safety and water quality to carbon footprint and climate change, consumers want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced. Nearly 8 million acres of New York land is in the care of farm families who produce the fresh food, green energy and other products that we need every day. For nearly 15 years, AEM has supported New York’s farmers in their efforts to farm cleaner and greener, while remaining economically viable into the future.

Guide to Planning and Zoning Laws of New York State

This publication, part of the Department of State’s “James A. Coon Local Government Technical Series,” is designed to help municipal officials and attorneys make more efficient use of planning and zoning laws.The guide provides the text of each pertinent section of law with notations in the margin to assist in referencing. Notes at the end of certain sections reference other related statutes and list Department publications, if any.

New York Department of Agriculture & Markets Guidance Document: Agricultural Mitigation for Pipeline Right-of-Way Construction Projects

The following agricultural mitigation standards are designed to apply to transmission pipelines that affect agricultural land. These standards and practices apply to the early planning stage of the project through construction, restoration, and post-construction monitoring and rehabilitation.

Cost of Community Services Study: Towns of Beekman and North East, Dutchess County, New York

Dutchess County is experiencing tremendous development pressures. Since the 1950s, the county's population has grown dramatically. Between 1950 and 1980, population increased 80% from 136,781 to 245,055. Current estimates predict a population of 326,000 by the year 2010. While many local communities are faced with proposals for new housing units and commercial buildings, they are also witnessing a significant decline in their agricultural sectors.

Agricultural and Farmland Protection for New York

The primary purpose of this handbook is to help New York's recently mandated agricultural and farmland protection boards accomplish the challenging task set out for them in the Agricultural Protection Act of 1992. The handbook is also meant to provide needed information to state and local officials, land use professionals, farmers and farmland protection advocates who want to ensure a future for the state's valuable agricultural land.

Eden, NY: Agricultural Advisory Committee Ordinance

In 1994, the Town of Eden created an Agricultural Advisory Committee in recognition of the importance of farming to the community.  The committee helps ensure the continued viability of agriculture within the town and provides a conduit for feedback from the farm community to the town board and other town bodies.  The committee advises the town on agricultural districts within its jurisdiction, proposed zoning changes or development in agricultural districts and county, state and federal legislation and its potential impact on the town.

Yates County, NY: Model Right to Farm Law

Yates County developed a model Right to Farm law for towns.  Typically, local right-to-farm laws document the importance of farming to a town and notify non-farm rural residents that generally accepted agricultural practices are to be expected in farming areas.  Additionally, local right-to-farm lawscan establish dispute resolution processes to mediate conflicts and avoid expensive legal battles.  

Southampton, NY: Lease of Development Rights Enabling Ordinance

The Town of Southampton developed an Agricultural Overlay District and Agricultural Planned Development District to encourage the business of farming and protect productive farmland for agricultural purposes. Parcels of at least 10 acres located in the overlay district are eligible for the program. Parcels are enrolled in a 10-year agricultural easement that permits no development unrelated to agricultural production on the property.

Clifton Park, NY: Local Conservation Easement Enabling Ordinance (Term Easements)

In 1996, the town of Clifton Park adopted a Conservation Easement Law. Owners of historic buildings or landowners with a minimum of 15 acres per lot (or 7.5 acres each for any two adjoining lots) can apply to the town's program. In exchange for 15- to 25- year commitments to not develop the land, the town reduces the property tax assessments of participating landowners by 80 to 90 percent.

Perinton, NY: Local Conservation Easement Enabling Ordinance (Term Easements)

The town of Periton adopted a Conservation Easement Law in 1976. The law does not set a minimum acreage for enrollment but stipulates that a parcel must be developable so that there is a real benefit to the town. In exchange for commitments of five to 25 years, the town reduces property tax assessments on enrolled properties by 25 to 90 percent.

Riverhead, NY: Community Preservation Act

New York state law permits five towns in Long Island's Peconic Bay region to develop "community preservation funds" to protect farmland, natural areas and open space.  The five towns, including Riverhead, have the authority to enact up to a two-percent real estate transfer tax with proceeds going to the dedicated community preservation fund.  Riverhead has established its own Community Preservation law that details how the fund will be administered.  

Caton, NY: Cluster Subdivision Ordinances

The Town of Caton's subdivision regulations include a step-by-step conservation subdivision design process and cluster development provision designed to encourage flexibility, preserve natural qualities of open lands and reducing the costs of infrastructure.  A traditional subdivision plan can be submitted for major subdivisions only if it is demonstrated that a traditional layout would be most beneficial to the community and compatible with the site.  Otherwise, a cluster development is required that retains 50 percent of the land as undeveloped open space.

Easton, NY: Subdivision Ordinance

The town of Easton's emphasis on supporting agriculture and mitigating the impacts of new development on farms is evident throughout this subdivision law.  Minor subdivisions undergo a two-step process, while major subdivisions have a three-step process.  For projects that require environmental impact statements, the town requires an element describing the impact on agriculture when the proposed action is located within or contiguous to an agricultural district.

Beekman, NY: Incentive Zoning Ordinance

The Town of Beekman passed an incentive zoning provision in 2001.  The law authorizes the town board to grant zoning incentives to encourage "community benefits."  One of the benefits that a developer can provide is the permanent conservation of agricultural lands.  In exchange, the developer can receive an increase in permitted residential density or reduced requirements for non-residential development including decreased minimum lot sizes andsetbacks, or increased impervious lot coverage, floor area ratios or building heights. 

Stuyvesant, NY: Cluster Subdivision Ordinance

The Town of Stuyvesant uses an incentive-based approach to encouraging the cluster of new housing and the retention of prime farmland.  Landowners proposing cluster subdivisions on parcels greater than 10 acres can receive a density bonus of one additional lot for each 10 acres of buildable area.  The density bonus is in addition to the standard number of lots permitted by local law.  To be considered a cluster subdivision, 50 percent of the parcel must be permanently protected for conservation purposes.  

Washington, NY: Agricultural Zoning Ordinance (Overlay Districts)

The Town of Washington uses overlay districts to protect agricultural land and farm productivity.  Overlay zones provide incentives or institute additional development standards for parcels with certain characteristics.  Washington applies an agricultural protection overlay districts to parcels in certain zones that are greater than 10 acres, have at least 50 percent prime soils or are located in a certified agricultural district.  In addition, uses such as road side stands and housing for farm workers are permitted in the overlay district.


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