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Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

Agriculture

Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan FINDINGS Land Use Planning Techniques to Protect Farmland At the local level, planning and zoning are important farmland protection tools. When a local area strives to sustain its agricultural economy and protect farmland, these objectives should be reflected in the planning and zoning process. The communities around the nation making the greatest strides to protect the land base for their agricultural industry are those who employ a combination of techniques including some of those summarized below. COMPREHENSIVE PLANS Comprehensive plans, also known as master or general plans, allow communties to create a longterm vision for their future. They outline local government policies, objectives and guidelines regarding development. Typically, they identify areas best suited for a variety of land uses, including agriculture, forestry, residential, commercial, industrial and recreational activities. Comprehensive plans can establish a commitment to local agriculture by protecting natural resources and promoting farm business opportunities. Comprehensive plans can form the basis of a local farmland protection strategy by identifying areas to be protected for agriculture and areas where development will be encouraged. They also should aim to conserve natural resources while providing affordable housing and adequate public services. ZONING Zoning is usually the chief tool, along with the water and sewer plan and transportation plan, to implement what the community agreed to work toward in the comprehensive plan. Legally, all zoning requirements must be in accordance with a comprehensive plan. Zoning controls usually function at the smallest level of government. Zoning ordinances segment portions of counties, cities and towns into areas devoted to specific land uses. They also establish standards and densities for development. Zoning ordinances, lot size requirements and road specifications may affect agriculture immensely and should be reviewed carefully. Many local governments and planning boards assume that farming is a residential land use. Worse, they consider agriculture a temporary land use until further suburban or non-farm development occurs. As a result, farmland is often zoned in rural/residential districts, which may encourage premature conversion of the land. Zoning can be used as a form of farmland protection. For instance, maintaining a lower density of development in an area may be beneficial to farming. Fewer neighbors mean fewer potential conflicts. Local governments can reduce the density of development in two ways: by increasing the minimum lot size or by reducing density without requiring large lots that may prove to be “too small to farm and too big to mow.” Columbia, MD 15

Genesee County, New York For example, say the desired land density is one unit per five acres and the parcel in question is 100 acres. This parcel could be divided into either 20 5-acre parcels or 20 1-acre parcels and an 80-acre parcel. In both examples, the result is 20 building lots (not considering the 80-acre parcel as a separate building lot) with a density of one unit per five acres. In the latter example, however, a relatively large, agriculturally viable parcel remains. Several different zoning techniques that may be used to encourage the protection of farmland are outlined below. Agricultural Protection Zoning (APZ) Agricultural protection zoning ordinances designate areas where farming is the primary land use. They discourage development that could impair the land’s use for commercial agriculture. APZ ordinances also restrict the density of residential development in agricultural zones. They generally require building on small lots as opposed to dividing tracts into large, equally sized lots. Most ordinances make use of a fixed density, allowing, for instance, one dwelling for every 25 acres. Others are based on a sliding scale, with the dwelling and acreage allowances more flexible. Agricultural protection zoning stabilizes the agricultural land base by keeping large tracts of land relatively free of non-farm development. For APZ to be effective, the area’s farming industry must be profitable, and farmers must be committed to keeping their land in production. Sliding Scale Zoning Sliding scale zoning uses a scale to determine the number of lots that potentially could be developed in an area. Owners of smaller parcels are allowed to divide more land into lots than are owners of larger parcels. To keep farmland in productive use, maximum lot sizes (usually two or three acres) typically are established. Non-farm development is directed to less productive land. Cluster Zoning Cluster zoning ordinances allow or require houses to be grouped close together on small lots to protect open land. They increase density on part of a parcel while leaving the rest undeveloped. This allows the construction of the same number of houses, while minimizing the impact to the area’s natural resources. New York Town Law, Section 281, allows municipalities to permit, or require, cluster development. Cluster subdivisions may keep land open for future agricultural use, but generally they are not designed to support commercial agriculture. In addition, clustering may create tension between residential and agricultural land uses if new neighbors object to the sights, sounds and smells of commercial farming. To increase its usefulness as a farmland protection tool, provisions should 16 Agriculture and Community Development Services, Inc.

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    Table of Contents Introduction 2 Me

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    Methods The methods used to prepare

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    Summary (continued) As Genesee Coun

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    Genesee County Gross Farm Sales Reb

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    Dairy and Cattle Sales Fuel Growth

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    Genesee County Farm Expenses Grow M

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    Farm Income Strength Keeps Farmers

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    Real Farm Real Estate Values Slide

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    Farm Cropland Falls Modestly in Gen

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    Dairy Farm Numbers Plummet. Number

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    Dairy Farm Size Expands in Genesee

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    Traditional Crops - Harvested Acrea

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    Specialty Crops - A Few Crops Domin

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    Specialty Crops - Greenhouse Produc

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    Number of Firms 30 25 20 15 10 Grow

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    Genesee County Farming Sectors’ O

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    Farming Sector Employment for Genes

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    Farm Output Multipliers for Genesee

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    Expenditures by the Vegetable Farm

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    Appendix: IMPLAN Analysis and Resul

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    Genesee County: Agricultural Develo

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    APPENDIX B: Project Contact List Ma

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    APPENDIX C: AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMEN

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    APPENDIX C: AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMEN

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    APPENDIX D: INDUSTRY PRACTICES Dair

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    APPENDIX D: INDUSTRY PRACTICES •

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    Genesee County: Town of Byron Cost

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    Genesee County: Town of Byron Cost

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    Genesee County: Town of Byron Cost

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    Genesee County: Town of Byron Cost

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    Fire District 1 46,500.00 41,850.00

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    EMPLOYEES State Retirement 500.00 7

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    Town of Byron Revenues 2000 Revenue

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    APPENDIX C: SWOT ANALYSIS Stable La

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    APPENDIX C: SWOT ANALYSIS Developme

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    APPENDIX C: SWOT ANALYSIS Labor: Th

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    Sweetland Road Sumner Road Orleans

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    #· W E S Source: Genessee County P

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    Tonawanda Indian Reservation 5.3% A

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    Harlow Road Simonds Road Bethany Ce

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