Planning Ahead: Community Laws
If you plan to build a new farm facility, establish a retail farm outlet, add worker housing, etc., check with your local municipality to find out which laws apply. Some common restrictions/requirements might include: road setbacks, lot size, dimensions, signage size and placement, site plan requirements, screening, etc.
Looking into local laws, regulations, and requirements can be as easy as a phone call to your town's building Inspector or code enforcement officials. If you are not able to go directly to the municipality to research this information, you may use the 'e-code" system which is available online for most towns and villages located in the State. By visiting General Code - PA, land owners can search a municipality's codes, their definitions, etc., by subject matter that pertains to their specific farm operation or project.
Ag Districts can provide exceptions to the Law. Farms located in agricultural districts are generally exempt from many local and some state, some building codes, and from the need to provide professionally stamped plans for farm buildings, etc. Contact your county planning or tax assessor to see if the property you own is in an agricultural district.
If you are located in an agricultural district and find local zoning to be excessively restrictive to your farm development plans, check the PA Department of Agriculture website for information on local laws and the agricultural district law and how they relate. In many cases, the Agricultural District law protects farm operations from restrictive local laws.
If you are not located in an Agricultural District then you must comply with local regulations.
New York State Building Codes
Farm buildings are exempt from the building code for building construction. To learn about whether or not your farm is exempt from the property maintenance and some fire safety code requirements, contact:
New York State Department of State Code Enforcement and Administration
One Commerce Plaza, 99 Washington Ave, Suite 1160, Albany, NY 12231
For more information relevant to local laws and agricultural districts, please visit the New York State Ag & Markets website. This website does provide guidance documents for many specific on-farm situations regarding local laws affecting farm worker housing, nutrient management practices, control of farm animals, an operations' use of wetlands, direct farm marketing activities, composting facilities, small alternative energy production devices, and on-farm open burning.
Prepared by: Audrey Reith, Equine & Livestock Educator, Cornell Extension Orange County, 18 Seward Ave., Suite 300, Middletown, NY 10940-1919 Phone: 845-344-1234 Fax 845-343-7471
Northeast SARE project