Agricultural District Program


Contents:

Notices | Open Enrollment Period | District Review Period | Recently Completed Reviews | Benefits of Agricultural Districts | Frequently Asked Questions | Contact & Additional Information


Notices

  • Erie County Legislature’s Public Hearing on Proposed Modifications to Existing Agricultural Districts

Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm, Grand Island Memorial Library, 1715 Bedell Road in Grand Island, New York, 14072

 

  • Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board Meeting

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 21 S Grove Street, East Aurora, NY 14052


 

  • 2016 Open Enrollment Period - Closed September 30th, 2016

30-DAY PERIOD FOR INCLUSION OF PREDOMINANTLY VIABLE AGRICULTURAL LANDS INTO EXISTING AGRICULTURAL DISTRICTS

Map of All Erie County Agricultural Districts 2015

Per New York State Agriculture and Markets Law Section 303-b, the Erie County Legislature designated September 1 through September 30 as the annual thirty-day period during which landowners may submit requests to include predominantly viable agricultural land into an existing certified agricultural district.

Copies of the application form have been provided to Municipal Clerks, Assessors, and Chief Elected Officials for distribution to interested landowners. The application is also available on the DEP website at www.erie.gov/environment(On this page)

The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning will accept applications from September 1 through September 30. Any questions on this process should be directed to the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning.

A public hearing will also be scheduled at a later date to consider all inclusion requests and the recommendations of the Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board.

CONTACT:

Elias Reden, Planner

Erie County Environment & Planning

95 Franklin Street, 10th Floor

Buffalo, NY 14202

Phone: (716) 858-1911     Fax: (716) 858-7248      Email: agriculture@erie.gov

 



Open Enrollment Period

Per New York State Agriculture and Markets Law Section 303-b, the Erie County Legislature designated September 1 through September 30 as the annual thirty-day period during which landowners may submit requests to include predominantly viable agricultural land into an existing certified agricultural district.


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District Review Period

Coming soon

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Recently Completed Reviews

  • In May 2016, Erie County completed the eight-year review of Eden Agricultural District No. 2, North Collins Agricultural District No. 4, Collins Agricultural District No. 8, and Brant-Evans Agricultural District No. 9. In accordance with the Erie County Agricultural District Consolidation Plan, the only modification proposed was the consolidation of the above-mentioned Agricultural Districts into the Consolidated Southwest Agricultural District No. 8. This information was transmitted to the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and was certified on June 23, 2016. The next review of Consolidated Southwest Agricultural District No. 8 will take place during or before June 2024. 

  

  • In February 2014, Erie County completed the eight-year review of Marilla Agricultural District No. 5. No modifications were proposed and the Erie County Legislature recommended the continuation of the District. This information was transmitted to the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and was certified on April 9, 2014. The next review of Ag District 5 will be done on or before December 4, 2021.

 

  • In February 2014, Erie County received a notification from the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets regarding the eight-year review of Sardinia Agricultural District No. 6. According to the Erie County Agricultural District consolidation schedule, Agricultural District 6 is scheduled for consolidation with Holland Agricultural District No. 11 and Concord Agricultural District No. 15. As such, Erie County has requested an extension of District 6 in order to align its review with the review period of Districts 11 and 15. The review and consolidation of these districts is scheduled to take place between October 2016 and August 2017.

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Benefits of Agricultural Districts

Agricultural districts provide certain protections to the farming community. These protections are designed with the intention of keeping agricultural lands in agriculture. The benefits are summarized below.

  • Limits to Local Regulation – Local governments cannot enact any rules or regulations in agricultural districts that are overly burdensome to agriculture, making it difficult or impossible to continue with agricultural production.
  • Limits to Publicly Funded Construction and Eminent Domain Projects – If a governmental agency would like to perform certain construction activities or would like to acquire agricultural lands in an agricultural district, they must first go through a formal review process to determine the impacts on agriculture. A process is in place if unreasonable adverse impacts to agriculture would occur.
  • Discouragement of Private Nuisance Lawsuits – Property owners are notified at the time of sale that their property is within an agricultural district. Additionally, the State will determine what is considered a “sound agricultural practice.” Sound agricultural practices cannot be considered a nuisance on lands within an agricultural district or on lands receiving an agricultural assessment.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

 

What is an agricultural district?

A geographic area which consists predominantly of viable agricultural land. Agricultural operations within the district are the priority land use and afforded benefits and protections to promote the continuation of farming and the preservation of agricultural land. In practice, districts may include land that is actively farmed, idle, forested, as well as residential and commercial.

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What is agricultural district review?

Districts are reviewed every 8 years. After receiving the County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board report and recommendations and following a public hearing, the Erie County Legislature determines whether the district shall be continued, terminated or modified. During the review process, land may be added or removed from the district.

Counties are also required to designate an annual 30-day period when landowners my petition the County for inclusion of viable agricultural lands in an existing agricultural district. In Erie County, the annual open enrollment period is held from September 1st to September 30th.

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Does the agricultural district impact taxes?

No. The agricultural districts do not affect your taxes. Agricultural lands may qualify for a tax break through the agricultural assessments program. Though agricultural assessments and agricultural districts are governed by the same law, the process is completely independent. Your taxes are based on the current land use and are determined by your assessor independent of the agricultural district.

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Am I restricted from doing certain things on my land?

No. The agricultural district does not put any restrictions on what you can do to the land. They do not prevent you from developing your land into residential or commercial uses in the future. Their main goal is to provide protections for current and potential agricultural lands and to encourage agriculture to continue. You may build new structures on the land in the agricultural district, following the same process as lands outside of the agricultural district.

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If my land is in an agricultural district, do I automatically receive its benefits?

No. Only land considered by New York State to be a “Farm Operation” (as defined by NYS Agricultural Districts Law (ADL) below) receives the benefits.

Farm operation” means the land and on-farm buildings, equipment, manure processing and handling facilities, and practices which contribute to the production, preparation and marketing of crops, livestock and livestock products as a commercial enterprise, including a “commercial horse boarding operation” as defined in subdivision thirteen of this section, a “timber operation” as defined in subdivision fourteen of this section, “compost, mulch or other biomass crops” as defined in subdivision sixteen of this section and “commercial equine operation” as defined by subdivision seventeen of this section. Such farm operation may consist of one or more parcels of owned or rented land, which parcels may be contiguous or noncontiguous to each other.

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How do I find out if my property is in an agricultural district?

To determine if your property is in an agricultural district, you may visit the Erie County GIS page and search by address or SBL number. Turn on the agricultural district layer to see the extent of the districts around your property.

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Do agricultural districts consist entirely of farmland?

Districts must contain predominantly of viable agricultural land. This has been interpreted as more than 50% of land in farms; however most districts have a higher percentage. The benefits and protections under the ADL, however, only apply to farm operations and land used in agricultural production.

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Does an agricultural district preserve farmland?

Agricultural districts do not preserve farmland in the sense that the use of land is restricted to only agricultural uses forever. Rather, agricultural districts provide benefits that help make and keep farming as a viable economic activity within the County.

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To check if your parcel is already in an agricultural district, you may search the Erie County Online Mapping System 

If your property is in agricultural use, please fill out our Agricultural Review Worksheet.

  

For more information on agricultural programs, contact the Erie County Department of Environment & Planning at (716) 858-1911 or agriculture@erie.gov

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