An increase in the number of non-farm residents in agricultural areas may result in new zoning and regulatory actions by localities that inhibit farming operations. To safeguard against this, Section 305-a of the ADL prohibits the enactment and administration of comprehensive plans, laws, ordinances, rules, or regulations by local governments which would unreasonably restrict or regulate farm operations within an agricultural district, unless it can be shown that the public health or safety is threatened.
The Commissioner may independently or upon a complaint initiate a review of the enactment or administration of local law. The Commissioner is authorized to bring an action or issue an order to enforce ADL Section 305-a.
The Department has developed guidelines on the effect of ADL Section 305-a on enactment and administration of local laws and regulations. These documents are updated periodically and may be obtained from the Department's website or by contacting NYS Ag and Markets.
Limitation on Local Benefit Assessments
Improvement projects from local municipalities may include sewer, water, lighting, non-farm drainage, and solid waste disposal. Benefit assessments, special ad valorem levies, and other rates or fees for local improvements in certain improvement districts or benefit areas are generally calculated on the basis of the value, acreage, or frontage of the properties benefited. Agricultural operations commonly involve large tracts of land and multiple structures. The ADL restricts assessments for local improvements to a lot not exceeding one-half acre surrounding any dwelling or non-farm structure located on land used in agricultural production in an agricultural district, and to farm structures directly benefited by the services. This limitation does not apply in those instances where the benefit assessments, special ad valorem levies, or other rates or fees were imposed prior to the formation of the agricultural district.