Commissioners weigh 'right-to-farm' bill to prevent complaints of nuisance

November 19, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Carroll commissioners are considering a "right-to-farm" law aimed at reducing complaints and suits filed against farmers by suburban neighbors bothered by smells and noise.

The Carroll Agricultural Commission and Farm Bureau members studied the issue and drafted an ordinance, said William Powel, administrator of the county's Agricultural Land Preservation Program.

Mr. Powel presented the draft to the commissioners and delegates at a meeting yesterday at the County Office Building.

The lawmakers promised to consider it.

Farmers and others involved in county agriculture have been considering the idea of a right-to-farm law for at least four years, Mr. Powel said.

A "Future of Agriculture" subcommittee recommended in March 1990 that the county adopt such a law.

The group that drafted the ordinance studied similar laws in other states and in Howard County, he said.

The group, chaired by James Steele of Woodbine, said the ordinance should include:

* A real estate transfer disclosure statement for property purchased in the agriculture and conservation zones to notify potential buyers that farming is a preferred activity in those areas.

* A grievance committee to try to resolve controversy arising from inconveniences and discomfort associated with farming operations.

* A limitation on the circumstances in which a farming operation may be deemed a nuisance if the farmer is following good management practices and environmental regulations.

The commissioners discussed several other bills they want the delegation to introduce during the next General Assembly session. The bills would:

* Allow waste that is used to create energy to be considered as recycling and thus counted as part of the county's state-mandated recycling effort.

Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in Union Bridge has permission to burn used tires as fuel, and Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy has said the tires should be considered a recycled material.

* Allow the county commissioners to appoint at least nine of the 25 members of the county Economic Development Commission. Current law says the commissioners must nominate members from a list provided by the EDC.

* Allow the county to deny access to a water main or sewer line if the lines have been declared "limited access."

Current law says the county must allow residents to hook up to lines if the lines pass their homes.

If this practice continues, residential development could occur in areas where the county master plan says it shouldn't, County Attorney Charles W. Thompson Jr. said.

Delegates will take comments on the proposed legislation from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Jan. 22 in Room 07 of the County Office Building.

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