My nerdy passion is land use. Many of you may have already read my past blog on relating unplanned communities to hoarders, and if you haven’t read it you should. This time I want to talk about land use and how it relates to the farmer.
First, I will cover a few governmental land use programs that you as a farmer in Ohio, may be eligible for. Second, I will cover a few guidelines outlined in the Ohio Revised Code that township officials are suppose to abide by, and thirdly I will discuss what you as an active community member can do to engage more farmers in the land use discussions.
Ohio Government Administered Land Use Programs for farmers (in a nut shell)
C.A.U.V. (Current Agricultural Use Valuation): This is essentially a property tax break for commercial agriculture. Commercial agriculture means you need to be taking either crops or critters to the market. This program is not for hobby farmers. Some criteria include a 10 acre minimum, unless an agricultural income of $2500 gross can be verified, you must re-enroll on an annual basis, and if the land is no longer in agricultural use, recoupment penalty is assessed. This program is administered through the County Auditor’s office.
Agricultural District (Ag District): This is basically Ohio’s ‘right to farm’ program. Some criteria include: land must be enrolled in C.A.U.V.; land receives deferment of collection of new water and electric assessments, legal protection in the event of nuisance lawsuit, and relaxed air pollution standards. This is a free program and is renewed every five years. Penalties for early withdraw may be assessed. This is also administered through the County Auditor’s office.
Agricultural Security Areas (ASA): This is a partnership agreement between landowners, County Commissioners, and Township Trustees NOT to initiate ANY non-agricultural development for a period of ten years. Some criteria include: land must be enrolled in both C.A.U.V. and Ag District, land must be at least 500 contiguous acres (this allows several farms to partner together), and the land must be in the unincorporated area (not within city or village limits). There are tax benefits for investing in new real agricultural property – like new barns, manure storage pits, and more. The Ohio Department of Agriculture administers this program.
Guidelines outlined in the Ohio Revised Code for Township Zoning and Agriculture (again, in a nutshell)
ORC 519.21 Powers not conferred on township zoning commission by chapter
According to the Ohio Revised Code, township zoning commissions, trustees, and or board of zoning appeals have no power to “prohibit the use of ANY land for agricultural purposes or the construction or use of buildings or structures incident to the use for agricultural purposes of the land on which the buildings or structures are located…and no zoning certificate shall be required for any such building or structure.”
So what does this mean for a landowner – farmer in any township in Ohio? Regardless of the zone your property is in, you are not to be prohibited from agricultural activities. This does not mean you have to farm for a business, this includes hobby farming, horse farming, and viticulture. There are exceptions to the rule. If you are located in a …
- In a platted subdivision of 15 or more approved lots if your lot is 1 acre or less. They may prohibit agriculture.
- In a platted subdivision of 15 or more approved lots if your lot is greater than 1 acre but not greater than 5 acres they may regulate buildings or structures and or animal husbandry.
- There are other regulations if you plan on operating a farm market. Contact me for that information.
*These rules do not apply to municipalities, villages, or home rule townships.
What can You as an Active Community Member do to Engage more Farmers in the Land Use Discussions
The farming community needs to unite. Land use discussions are taking place and frankly, farmers are not being heard. Find out when your community meets (City Council meetings, Township Trustee meetings, and others) then…attend. Let the leaders know of your presence and that you actually do care about the future of your land. I realize that we are all very busy, farmers, especially. However, if we farmers do not stand up and speak, they will think that we don’t care and develop our farmland. If we, as a united group of taxpayers do not make our wishes, desires, or plans known…they will go unheard and unnoticed. It is time, as you write your check to the Department of the Treasury, to let your vote count, make your voice heard. Get involved!
If you are not a farmer, but know a farmer…invite them to the necessary meetings, and even offer to help out on the farm in exchange!