The 2013 Session’s First Sure-Fire Media Circus: The Boneta Bill

Martha Boneta

by James A. Bacon

In August 2012, Martha Boneta held a birthday party for eight girls on her Fauquier County farm. After an ensuing altercation with local authorities over permissable land uses on her property, including the hosting of events and the sale of farm products and home crafts, she filed suit against the county. The story made it onto FOX News, a variety of property rights groups took up her cause and now Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, has introduced the “Boneta Bill” (HB 1430) to limit property rights infringements by government.

The controversy raises important issues about rural property rights, and the Boneta Bill, which would modify the Right to Farm Act (VRFA), could have sweeping ramifications on the power of Virginia counties to regulate commercial activity on farms.

Said Lingamfelter in a press release:

Property rights are one of the most fundamental rights in a free society. In the United States, we the people are the sovereign. We the people have the right to farm just as our Founders envisioned with what they called the pursuit of happiness. …

House Bill 1430 will strengthen the VRFA and ensure that the heritage and traditions of farming in the Commonwealth of Virginia are respected at all levels of government. By amending the defining section of the VRFA to include the byproducts of farm produce and the sale of items incidental to farming, House Bill 1430 ensures that government officials cannot take action to restrict or prevent the citizens from engaging in commerce. The bill also expressly sets forth that any county ordinance is void if it were to violate constitutional rights on agricultural property, such as speech, assembly, religion, and other freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights.

Foes of the bill are concerned that, if it passes, there would be nothing to prevent a farm anywhere from becoming a flea market. It would pit farmers who have larger retail operations on their property against farmers who just want to farm — and against homeowners who purchased property in the country “just to get away from it all.” Furthermore, my source says, the bill could have unintended consequences, potentially affecting the ability of local governments to regulate a noisy and visible activity like oyster farming in residential neighborhoods, as two oyster farmers embroiled in litigation with York County, have engaged in.

Boneta owns “Paris Barns,” a small, historic working farm in Fauquier, that produces seasonal vegetables, herbs, honey, eggs, hand-made soaps and wool crafts. Boneta’s friends and allies claim that these activities, as well as the birthday party, ran afoul of local land use regulations. States Lingamfelter’s press release:

County government officials informed Martha that local ordinances required a permit to be obtained prior to hosting such an event and that she would be fined $5,000 for doing so. Martha was also charged with two additional violations with up to $5,000 fines apiece – one for advertising a pumpkin carving and another for operating a small shop on her property that Martha used to sell her fresh produce and handmade crafts. County officials made these claims and levied fines without ever stepping foot on her property to actually see her operations.

County officials dispute the accuracy of that account. A press release issued by the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors responds that (1) the county has not yet levied any fines, (2) Boneta was never cited for selling her own farm products but for selling produce and crafts produced off-site, and (3) Boneta was never cited for hosting a birthday party but for “representing that her farm was available for, a variety of activities including parties, classes, festivals and other events.” Fauquier officials insist that its code does not infringe upon farmers’ rights to sell their own produce or to provide “tours” of their farms.

The Fauquier County press release concedes that if Boneta does not comply with the zoning ordinance, “additional actions would be taken to include legal actions or fines up to $5,000,” and it does not dispute that she has shut down her commercial operations.

This issue should be a hot one. In November, 74% of Virginians voted for an amendment that would strengthen property rights. The Boneta Bill has strong populist appeal. But local governments worry that the bill would restrict their ability to regulate conflicting land uses in rural areas. Lingamfelter has scheduled a press conference that could well turn into a media circus. The event will be attended by constitutional lawyer Mark Fitzgibbons, co-author of “The Law that Governs Government,” and organic farmer Joel Salatin, author of “Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front.” Stay tuned…

39 Responses to The 2013 Session’s First Sure-Fire Media Circus: The Boneta Bill

  1. this is why you need Dillon, DJ.

    • Wrong! This is why Dillon needs to be diluted. If the people of Fauquier County want to limit roadside advertising or demand that retail operations be licensed – it is their prerogative. This has nothing to do with farming or the right to farm. Nobody contests Ms. Bonita’s right to farm.

      The question is whether people who own farms have the right to open unregulated retail operations on those farms in violation of county statute. Or, to put up signs / billboards on their property without county approval. In Talbot County, MD it seems that any farmer can open a retail operation called a farm stand and sell produce. As a taxpayer in Talbot County that is fine with me. However, I have no right to tell the good people of Fauquier County whether they should think that’s OK or not.

      I own a house in Great Falls. Should I be able to construct a microwave relay tower on my property without any county approval? Should I be able to build a house that is 100 feet tall? Can I put up a full sized billboard advertising cigarettes without any permission? No, no and no.

      Once upon a time I bought a lot zoned for residential use. Then, I built a house on that lot. I knew the rules when I bought the lot and built the house. Why should I be able to spit in the face of my neighbors and fellow Fairfax County residents by breaking the county municipal code? Why aren’t my neighbors and fellow residents of Fairfax County free to regulate the lives of Fairfax County residents (within the federal and state constitution) without interference from the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond? Why would I want a wing nut from Woodbridge telling me how to live in Great Falls?

      If I don’t like the rules in Fairfax County, I have two choices:

      1. Work to get supervisors elected who support my position, or …
      2. Move.

      The same is true in Fauquier County.

      Hypothetically, if 98% of Fauquier County residents don’t want unlicensed produce stands on farms why would it be the responsibility of state government to tell them “no”?

      This seems to have little to do with valid property rights. You have a right to property and the government must compensate you if they seize that property for the public good. You have a right to farm on agricultural property. You do not have a constitutional right to unlicensed retail. Maybe you should be allowed to operate retail stores on farms, maybe not.

      Personally, I think Ms. Bonita has a point. Personally, I think many of Fauquier’s residents are a bunch of “come lately”, elitist, NIMBY punks.

      But you know what, LarryG … it doesn’t matter what I think. Because I don’t live there. And, presumably, the Fauquier BoS reflects what the people who live there do think.

      Mind your own business LarryG. Telling other people in other counties how they should think and live is oppression.

  2. wow! In THAT case…..

    :-)

    perhaps you can tell me why we have a State Constitution instead of each county doing their own!

    ;-)

    what’s in the Constitution that you would consider needed to be there to impose on all counties ?

    property rights? you’d leave that up to each county?

    • Why does every state need a constitution instead of just relying on the US Constitution?

      Because the founders were very afraid of putting too much power in the hands of centralized government.

      If the founders came back to life today they would wonder why Richmond needs to have so much centralized power.

      We have replaced one form of tyranny with another.

      The Virginia Constitution should authorize every city and county to have a charter which grants that city or county substantial autonomy. Today in Virginia only cities have charters.

      This is the approach used by many, many other US states.

      If this were really a matter of property rights it would be settled in the courts and not the legislature. It is not about property rights. It is about a Teapublican politician grandstanding in anticipation of running for higher office.

      The existing US Constitution, federal law, Virginia Constitution and Virginia law provide ample protection for private property rights. If Fauquier County’s ordinances violate those laws it should be a simple matter to take the case to court.

      Again, I am not saying that the Fauquier County ordinance is good. I am simply saying that it is Fauquier County’s right to regulate commerce in that county within the already restrictive tenets of existing law.

  3. “The bill also expressly sets forth that any county ordinance is void if it were to violate constitutional rights on agricultural property, such as speech, assembly, religion, and other freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights.”.

    This guy Lingamfelter must be a real piece of work. I guess the constitution wasn’t really valid until this yo-yo authored a bill in the state government declaring that unconstitutional ordinances are, well …. unconstitutional. Typical Clown Show behavior.

    Oh well, I just looked up Lingamfelter’s bio. He was raised in Richmond. Of course he thinks the constitution wasn’t complete until he personally endorsed it. Of course he has little to say about the quality of public schools in Woodbridge while being open to opine on the quality of rural life in Fauquier.. What is it about people from Richmond that makes them feel so imperially entitled to tell other people what to do? I guess he’s another arch – conservative Republican now residing in Prince William County. He hates federal over-reach but is just fine with Richmond over-reach. Has he ever lived on a farm or in a rural community in his life? Does he have some reason to suspect that the Fauquier BoS is not representing the interests of the Fauquier people?

    Yes, his district has four precincts in Fauquier (and 16 in Prince William County). Unfortunately, that means he can interfere in local Fauquier matters without being able to be voted out of office by Fauquier residents.

  4. DJ is on a tear today, eh?

    it actually was a serious question.

    Other States may well give more autonomy to localities though I’d like to have a better idea of what vs what not because even Home Rule states have Constitutions that apply to the entire state no matter the autonomy of localities.

    DJ has never made an affirmative case for Virginia to be more like other states that he likes …. other than Maryland (which is also a Dillon Rule state).

    Bonus Question: DJ – do you think all the citizens of Va have the right to vote on a referenda for property rights – that apply state-wide?

    do you think that “right” granted in our State Constitution is a legitimate “right” – correctly granted to citizens?

    double Bonus Question:

    Would you support the right of citizens in Facquier to overrule the BOS on this issue ?

    • LarryG:

      For about the millionth time – there are no “Dillon’s Rule” states. Every state splits political authority between the state and localities to some extent. The question is “to what extent?”. Virginia skews heavily toward state – level control. So does Alabama, for example. Maryland has much less of a skew toward Annapolis. For example, Baltimore County and Montgomery County (the two most populous counties, I believe) have explicit home rule.

      If Virginia were properly constructed as a political entity there would be charters for each and every locality (not just cities). The Virginia Constitution would allocate political power between the state and the localities. Now – would I support the right of Virginia residents to vote on a referendum for property rights that apply state wide? Probably not. I would only allow this as a referendum to change the Virginia Constitution. Anything less should probably be decided by the state or locality.

      Would I support the right of citizens in Fauquier County to overrule the BoS on this issue? Probably not since it is a specific enforcement of an existing statute. I would support a referendum on election day to address what the statute should be. However, I am willing to bet that the residents of Fauquier County would vote to support the statute. If I lived there I would vote in opposition to the statute but that not how most people there seem to think. Which is one reason I exercise my right to not live there.

      • re: “for the millionth time”

        you may find this interesting DJ… especially page viii table ES1.

        http://www.virginiadot.org/vtrc/main/online_reports/pdf/04-r14.pdf

        I’d be curious as to what you think about it

        and I have another link in the next post you also might find worth reading:

        • Your VDOT report calls Maryland a Dillon’s Rule state like Virginia. This is how the folks in Maryland (specifically, Montgomery County) see the matter:

          “The Dillon Rule as a concept is found in all states meaning that apart from the power ceded to the federal government in the U.S Constitution, the state governments have all the remaining governmental authority. However, most states have adopted various types of home rule provisions that permit some or all of their local governments to undertake those governmental functions that are not specifically precluded by the laws of those home rule states. Virginia has not provided such home rule authority to its local governments.
          The Virginia Supreme Court and other Virginia courts routinely apply the Dillon Rule to determine whether or not a local government has the legal authority to undertake a disputed action. For well-established county functions, like planning, zoning, and taxation, there are a number of statutes that give the county clear direction and authority to act, but in new areas of governmental concern, the Dillon Rule can serve as a constraint to innovative governmental responses. This means that Fairfax County has limited powers in areas such as
          raising revenue, and it cannot take certain actions without appropriate action from the state.”.

          “In accordance with state law, Montgomery County s primary source of legal authority is the County Charter, a home-rule form of government. As a charter county, the Maryland Constitution and Code provide Montgomery County with a broad array of express powers.
          Montgomery County may exercise all authority within its express powers unless specifically prohibited by the Maryland Constitution or statutory law. Further, the Maryland General Assembly is prohibited from enacting laws for Montgomery County within the subject areas
          covered by the express powers.”.

          Both Montgomery and Baltimore Counties operate with constitutionally guaranteed charters. 30% of all Marylanders live in those two counties.

          When VDOT claims Maryland as a Dillon’s Rule state it discredits itself and everything else it writes in that report.

  5. http://www.lwv-fairfax.org/files/lwv-dillon-dtp-99041.pdf

    Dillon’s Rule: Good or Bad for Local Governments?

    • Larry, thanks for this post. It confirms something former Delegate Vince Callahan told me – the last constitutional convention proposed to elimnate the Dillon Rule, but it was opposed by local government.
      “The Virginia Constitution expressly gives the General
      Assembly power to pass general and special laws to set forth
      the organization and powers of local governments. In 1969,
      the Commission on the Constitutional Revision proposed
      reversal of Dillon’s Rule, recommending “A charter county
      or a city may exercise any power or perform any function
      which is not denied to it by this constitution, by its charter or
      by laws enacted by the General Assembly.” Both the Virginia
      Municipal League (VML) and the Virginia Association of
      Counties (VACO) opposed these changes because local
      officials serving on VML felt the General Assembly had been
      fairly responsive to the needs and desires of local governments
      both through general laws and through charters. They also
      had a fear of the unknown in moving from Dillon’s Rule to
      home rule. The VML and VACO executive directors also
      talked with their counterparts in various home rule states and
      found it was not unusual for general assemblies in those states
      to pass laws denying local governments powers in a wide
      variety of areas. Thus, their opposition resulted in deletion of
      this proposed home rule constitutional provision by the
      General Assembly.” Quoting from Wirt, C., “Dillon’s Rule,” Virginia Town and City, Vol. 24, No. 8, Aug. 1989.

    • I’d support home rule on one condition – that it be coupled with the local citizens right to initiate referenda and recall.

      I believe if the self-determination of those who would be governed and I do believe the more local governance is, the better, as long as citizens have the ability to influence it.

      I think there is a need for central govt. I do want a state-wide State Police and I do want an interstate highway system and a state-level environmental protection so that rivers, streams, and airsheds are protected no matter the locality.

      DJ has a particular agenda here beyond generic Home Rule, I’m quite sure.

      Most discussions about Home Rule and Dillion center on land-use but I suspect what DJ is after is taxes and that’s fine – as long as the people who would be taxed – agree. Otherwise, DJ is just after another Richmond-type imposed “solution” that affects people who cannot effectively oppose it.

  6. Sounds like some of the elite neighbors are not happy this girl decided to use her property for an actual farm rather than an exclusive horse property for them to look at. I guess all the juicy tax credits were not enough for this sour bunch. Now they are unhappy that someone is selling honey, herbs, and hosting a b-day party? Is the Fauquier government funding the wish and desires of the good old boys? Shame on them. Shame on corruption.

    • Despite all the hollering about constitution and Dillons Rule ( which is entirely beside the point ) Sour Cherry has brought the issue home. The Culpeper Paper got hold of and printed part of the complaint that started this mess. The complaint simply said “we don’t want them selling anything on that farm.”

      This is what it has come down to in Fauquier: if your neighbors don’t want you to do something, however innocuous, then you will not be allowed to do it. The Boneta affair is and extension of the winery affair, the Kiddie Horse Show affair, the Bed and Breakfast affair, the Fish Farm affair, and a long list of other activities that have been shut down or curtailed for no real reason other than someone else wanted them not to happen.

      It is possible to have a modest venue selling farm made products and several farms do just that, but the wording of the current zoning regulation is sufficiently vague that even they could be shut down.

      It is pretty clear to me that the intention is to circumvent the state right to farm law, and it ought to be strengthened. Too bad Lingamfelter chose to do it because that will be the death knell for this attempt.

  7. The vested interests in favor of Virginia’s approach to Judge Dillon’s little rule are quite powerful, will not be overcome, but on going attempts do keep lots of lawyers and lobbyists employed. Ka-ching. Local governments rant and rave but the bills always die. This is not an endorsement of this bill, however — the issue of whether counties could have zoning powers was settled BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY some time ago. Dillon’s Rule in action.

    When the Fauquier flap was at its peak I was curious to know more than I could find in the main stream media. I had this strong suspicion that the regulations were in place to protect some vested interests, the farm county version of those laws against street vendors so popular with urban retailers. Perhaps there are traffic issues, and of course such a farm-based business needs to be licensed and fully taxed and inspected (heaven forbid that didn’t happen!), but I always wondered if this really was about protecting some politically-connected competitors. That is not a legitimate reason for such regulations.

    There was a time when at least a large portion of Americans understood that this country is supposed to be about freedom, and the protection of the minority from the tyranny of the majority. But then Jefferson and Adams died on the same day and we’ve been going downhill since.

    • down our way, we have Farmer’s markets but there are heavy restrictions on what can be sold.

      basically only locally-produced (within 100 miles) farm products.

      I know of at least 2 local Farms who have daily (summer) retail operations. Christmas Tree farms, apple/fruit orchards, wineries.

      we also see sofa/chairs sold out of the back of temporarily parked trucks…

      the local permanent businesses do not care for these ad-hoc, portable operations… including the Farmers Markets and send people to check to make sure they are selling only “local” farm products – and have lodged complaints with the authorities over what they see as people evading paying business licenses and other fees they have to pay in order to do business.

      A former regular poster, Hydra – lives in Facquier and has over the years had a plethora of critical thoughts about how Facquier treats non-hobby-horse farms and farming operations.

    • Breckenridge:

      Here’s my theory (and I’d love to hear from Fauquier County resident – Hydra):

      Fauquier County is horse country. The county is controlled by wealthy people who moved there after they made their millions (billions?).

      The land is largely in environmental trusts – thereby preventing development.

      Things like “sight lines” mean a lot. As opposed to everywhere else in Virginia – don’t even think of running high voltage lines through Fauquier.

      The Richie Riches who have moved to Fauquier (including Robert Duvall) don’t like seeing produce stands, farm based retail outlets or birthday signs on their Stepford Wives world.

      Ms. Bonita broke the rules. So, the powers that be acted.

      However, this is their world. Bizarre. Odd. Perhaps demented. But their world.

      Let them live the way they want.

      It is not my business.

      It is not your business.

      These statutes do not negatively affect other jurisdictions.

      It’s just that simple.

    • As far as I can tell this is not about protecting competitors. It is about protectiong those who are so rich that they don’t have to do anything, and the idea that a farm might actually be a business is offensive to them. As I once pointed out to my supervisor, look, I do not mind if youput me in the scenery business, but if that is what you want to do you had better find me some paying customers.

      • Not all of it is their world, and not all of it is in conservation easement.

        Their abilility to screw over their neighbors should be limited to the amount of damages they receive and can demonstrate. As it stands now they can claim a harm however minor “I don’t like that sign” and put a hundred thousand dollar business out of work.

        A hundred thousand is pocket change to some of my neighbors, but to myself and others, it is not only a good part of their living expenses (it costs a lot more than that to own and operate a farm) but the right to do it is a family legacy that had been handed down for hundreds of years, until the rich boys came in and got the rules changed far far in their favor.

        They need to lighten up and figure out how to get along without taking control. Some places make newcomers sign a long affadavit explaining that they understand they are moving to an active farm community and all of the things that entails, and that they intend to accept the conditions of commerce they move into.

  8. Broke what rules? The zoning administrator/county has singled this farm (lady) out. The behavior of these out-of-control bureaucrats has got to be stopped. It is hardly the job for Ms. Boneta to reign in government abuse but she has sure taken on the Fauquier “Familia”. Good for her and thank you for your very costly efforts, Ms. Boneta. As the county well knows, it is expensive to stop such abuse (and so they get away with it).

  9. DJ — yes, I know Fauquier and you describe parts of it well. Southern Fauquier could be in a different state.

    There was a similar situation recently in Albemarle, with the Batesville Store. It’s prepared food business got so big it ran afoul of the restaurant regs about two years ago, and couldn’t continue to operate without major bathroom upgrades which the owners chose not to make. But the real issue was probably neighbors were unhappy with the crowds being attracted to music events and someone sicced the Health Inspector on the store. And in that case I could see the neighbors’ point of view.

    But DJ, the logical extension of your point of view is frightening. I do not know all the facts here, but it is very possible this farmer’s fundamental rights were trampled upon. The US and Virginia constitutions and the Code of Virginia do not lose their power in Remington or Warrenton or The Plains because the Richie Riches want them ignored.

    And I have to correct my flippant historial references above. Adams and the Federalists proved that the human impulse to stifle freedom didn’t disappear on their watch. The Alien and Sedition Acts proved that. But in principle I think Adams got it.

    • “The US and Virginia constitutions and the Code of Virginia do not lose their power in Remington or Warrenton or The Plains because the Richie Riches want them ignored.”.

      Correct. And there is no reason to legislate this. Those rights are constitutionally guaranteed. If Fauquier County violates those rights then Ms. Bonita should take the matter to court. Since she is not doing this, I suspect that her “rights” were not trampled.

      I don’t know the details of the Batesville Store matter. However, it sounds like an Americans with Disabilities Act point. If so, any enterprise with prepared food and music events has to comply with ADA regulations.

  10. Not sure the c0rrect answer, but no one should have the right to stop anyone from making a living, if it is a legal operation, unless they can show the operation is a risk to health or significantly destroys the value of the existing surrounding property. In this case I doubt it meets this criteria. The Facquier folks always have the option to buy Ms Bonita out if they don’t want her around for any other reason.

    • jkorode:

      If nobody has the right to stop me from making a living then I should be able to erect multiple microwave relay towers on my property without notifying Fairfax County? Or, erect cigarette advertisement billboards?

      Ms. Bonita has many legally guaranteed rights including the right to farm. If Fauquier County violated those rights she should “have her day in court”.

      What new right, that Ms. Bonita doesn’t presently possess, does she need legislated for her?

      This whole story doesn’t smell right.

      • re: ” then I should be able to erect multiple microwave relay towers on my property”

        and here.. DJ and I are on the same wavelength.

        many regulations actually come from other property owners who fell aggrieved in some way by the actions of fellow property owners.

        over and over, we tend to blame this on an overly-zealous “rights-trampling” govt when what is really is going on is representative govt in action.

        In another thread on fracking/natural gas, Jim Bacon alludes to the fact that in this country, because the govt protects the rights of people with rule of law, it gives us advantages over countries that do not do that. But the flip side is the rights of those who may feel harmed by the exercise of rights of others.

        I still would support the right of people at the local level to essentially overrule the BOS on some issues.

        I think when we have that ability on the part of the voting electorate, it keeps the elected governance on the straight and narrow on their legislative ambitions.

      • I think the issue is risk to health or significiant degradation of surrouning property values. What has happened here is that this is interpreted to mean any and everything your neighbors choose not to like.

        It is out of control here, and the result is that your neighbors effectively control your property. The right to farm here has devolved until it means the right to keep a few handsome horses.

        The right to farm ought reasonably to mean the right to farm profitably. Around here the land is so expensive that farming profitably means doing whatever it takes to make enough money so that you can afford to keep planting. That is why the winery event situation is so flammable. But with more than a dozen wineries within a few miles of my farm, it might be possible for me to tap into some of that traffic and improve my situation; if the county will let me.

        • I have neighbors within a mile in both directions that were able to erect towers on their property. In both cases they had to lobby long and hard to get those rights. I could have used the income one of those towers represents, but I assumed in the first place that the county would reject the application outright, and when I learned how difficult the process was, I knew the result was the same: I could not afford to to take the time required, or hire an attorney to chase the thing to ground. Those neighbors that got the towers: I’m pretty certain theya re considerably better off than I am to begin with, and now they are more so: the rich get richer, especially in Fauquier.

  11. And yes, I know her name is spelled Boneta. However, from her photograph, I’d say she is quite bonita as well.

  12. re: ” I’d say she is quite Bonita as well.”

    LORD DJ!

    that sounds a bit scandalous to me!

    ;-)

    • Scandalous? Peter uses clip art on his blog posting that won’t go through the Net Nanny I use in my house. I have to temporarily turn down the filters from my iPhone before I can read some of his articles.

      Bonita = pretty in Spanish.

      I stand by my comment.

  13. Jim Bacon hasn’t been completely up front with us on this story.

    Guess who pushed for the new ordinances which Fauquier threatened to enforce against Ms. Boneta?

    Why the Piedmont Environmental Council.

    http://pec.citizen-networks.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=19321.0&dlv_id=239611

  14. yup.. I was afraid of that… what say you Jim Bacon… you’re mighty quiet on this? Better yet.. I wonder what PECs justification is….

  15. Here is the thing in a nutshell. The VA Tech farm budget for stocker cattle suggests that you can have 100 head on 300 acres and earn $10,000 per year. you cannot live on that, let alone pay for the three hundred acres.

    As a result you have to do something else. The rich elite have already done something else, like Cisco systems or Kraft Food, or Learning Tree, or Acting, and they don’t have to worry about that something else. That is OK, tht is thier right, but they don;t wnat you to do something else either.

  16. The compl;aint against Boneta reads: ” You are herby notified that Fauquier County staff has researched the above referenced property and found a violation of the following provisions of the Fauquier County Zoning ordinance:

    3-319.21 Operating a farm sales establishment without approval of an administrative permit.

    3-308.3 & 3-309.16 Conducting temporary or special events on site in conjuction with farm sales establishment without approval of a special permit, special exception or site plan..

    Please be advised that you have 30 days to remedy the above violations by ceasing the activity described above. If you do not comply these violations will be forwarded to the County Attorney’s Offfice for Pppropriate legal action with a maximum fine of $5,000 per violation pursuant to the county zoning ordinance.

    ————————————

    3-318.21 was a brand new ordinance, passed only weeks before which superceded the permit she had previously obtained. So far as I was able to determine, no other farms which do have on farm sales were aware of, or have obtained this administrative permit. As I understand it, ANY farm sales now require this adminstrative permit, which gives the zoning adminsitrator exceptional discretionary powers.

    To have an actual farmers market with multiple vendors requires that you have at least 100 acres, on a main road, that you reside on the premises, and have toilet facilities approved by the county. As a result there is ONE farmers market in the county. The other two are located in towns and not subject to the county rules, which basically have granted a monopoly to one family.

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