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Zoning Update-sobering news

Last week we submitted a series of questions to the Town Supervisor and Code Enforcement Officer.  As the growing season bears down, it was essential to understand their interpretation of the code. The Town Lawyer has  stated at two consecutive meetings that there would be no problem with a homeowner growing food in the residential zone and selling it at the Farmer's Market, which was thought provoking and gave us some optimism. 

What follows is the written response we received yesterday, with answers following in bold. Question 4-6 were included as there is an active maple operation on Miner.

What forms of food production are currently allowed in the residential zone?

1. Can someone grow food for themselves and their family?  
2. Can someone grow food for barter?  
3. Can someone collect sap in the residential zone?  
4. Can someone boil sap in the residential zone?  
    SAME AS #4.
5. Can someone sell maple syrup in the residential zone? 
    SAME AS #4 
6. Can someone grow food in the residential zone and distribute or sell it off site (ex. farmer’s market, wholesale, home delivery)?  
7.  Can someone grow food in the residential zone and distribute it in the rural portion of their property? 
8. If there is no money exchanged on site, can the food be grown and distributed in the residential zone? 

This interpretation of the code is much more conservative than we had expected. Not sure if it would stand up in a court of law, but unless it is brought to court, we could not know.

At the joint Planning and Town Board meeting we requested in November, they agreed to work towards a permit process that could be in place in time for the growing season. The goal was set as April. It's running behind as the legislation still has to make it to the County, then back to the Town for a public hearing. We'd then have to apply for the special permit and another public hearing for that application would be required. Regrettably this is not a solution for the current growing season.

Our next step is to apply for a Land Use Variance and a subsequent hearing before The Town Zoning Board of Appeals. We've been told that the majority of Variance Applications are denied.

Who knew growing food for the community could be so complicated?! We'll keep in touch as we continue to brainstorm and deduce our options.

1 comment:

  1. I scribbled a few notes after reading this blog.
    First, I am deeply sorry that you two have to go through all this upset.
    I can't help but wonder: "What is the board's agenda?"
    The Canton Town Board members who own property in areas where a proposal has been made to change zoning from agricultural to residential SHOULD recuse themselves from the discussion and the vote as they have a conflict of interest.
    When the town board members wish to discuss the issue at hand, they should introduce themselves and state their names and addresses and note the other properties they own within the town limits or have a vested interest in. This is not only common curtesy, I believe it is what the law requires. Note that they insist that all speakers give their names and addresses.
    Regarding the question of size of property required in the town for a resident to raise chickens, the town board is leaning towards 3 acres. They offer no insight as to their reasoning for this inflexible stance.
    The village offers no such size requirements. There are folks in the village who raise chickens after receiving approval from their neighbors. A prime example is Dr. and Mrs. Nordbert who own 2 houses on Main St., one they use as their residence, one a bed & breakfast. (Could you inerest them in speaking at the next meeting? Peter VandeWater, most likely, knows them.)
    Size is not the real issue. It is maintenance.
    There will always be folks who take care of their property and its surrounds and those who don't.
    The government's real job is not to discourage development but to fine or clean up property according to legal parameters.
    Using a time-tested metaphor, methinks there is a skunk in the henhouse. Claudia MacDonald