Our prime agricultural zoning district tries to preserve farmland by limiting permitted home construction to the farm operator. This term is undefined, however, and we are concerned with enforcement. Other towns in our area have become involved with litigation due to undefined verbage and the resulting inconsistent enforcement as town boards change. We are the only municipality of which I am aware that is this restrictive, so there are no local examples. Percentage of income, primary occupation, tax filings, and more have been suggested.
My goal is to allow active farm operators to build their primary residences, but prevent someone from buying 35 acres (our minimum lot size in prime ag) and putting a house on it. Renting the land out to a farmer would not be sufficient to qualify as a farm operator in the ideal definition. If we go that route, any landowner might as well be allowed to build. People who invest personal sweat equity in their land tend to be better caretakers. And we very much want to avoid the bad blood and lawsuits that result when city folk (no offense!) move to the country and discover that there are unpleasant noises and smells that accompany the pretty scenery. The best way to preserve farmland is to keep people farming!
Please help. The pressure for development is growing as our area is expanding economically. A new zoning ordinance is being reviewed by the town board so now is the time to insert this definition. Any suggestions regarding text that we should or should not use?