Monday, February 16, 2015

Right to Farm

Right to Farm is mentioned in the draft plan. But because Vermont is a Dillon Rule state, the state's right to farm law, which has been in place since 1981, is the final word on right to farm.

Underhill's zoning has a role in prohibiting non-farming uses, and permitting farming uses, but it already does that.

It's All About the Nuisance

"Zoning generally overrules nuisance. For example: if a factory is operating in an industrial zone, neighbours in the neighbouring residential zone can't make a claim in nuisance. Jurisdictions without zoning laws essentially leave land use to be determined by the laws concerning nuisance."[wikipedia]

This is a problem because it is impossible to imagine all of the possible future uses of land, much less write prescriptive zoning rules that elegantly address the many conflicts that can arise. And it is terribly inefficient and usually ineffective to try to right the wrongs of harmful, nuisance, noxious uses.

Underhill had for a long time a very good solution: no-growth policy befitting an exurban fringe town, stable zones with stable densities, limited permissible uses, broad conditional use review. This allowed for the flexibility of nuisance law with the anticipation of zoning. Yes, the regulators and townspeople need to be vigilant. But, in a no-growth town like Underhill, it is not a burden and works well by allowing gradual, ad hoc use conversions and straightforward, conditional control of noxious uses.