The Right to Farm

If you’ve watched this video, then you know that I sold my house. My closing is set for October 10, 2019. So that means that I need to find a house.

It’s been challenging to say the least.

Most houses don’t have the land that I need. The ones that do have cleared land, are well out of my price range. Then there are those that have lots of wood.

So one of the questions that I’ve been trying to figure out is whether the townships would let me clear the land that I needed. Some properties I immediately ruled out because the houses were in a state forrest.

This past Saturday, I saw a property in Evesham Township. The house was definitely overpriced for the condition that it was in. It also had 17 acres of land. As you can imagine, I smelled opportunity!!

I saw the house. It needed a lot of work, but there was a lot of potential there. It would be beautiful once I finished. The location was really good too!!

So I went to the Evesham website to figure out how much land I could clear. I knew that I would need a permit, but the online code wasn’t very clear. In my search on “farming” I hit a gold mine!! New Jersey has a “Right to Farm statute.” I cannot believe that I hadn’t come across this before. What kind of lawyer am I that I overlooked this statute! In my defense, I’ve tried 3 cases in 4 weeks, so I’m a little bit tired.

So basically, if you want to farm, you can pretty much do so in any zoning district (wetlands is the only exception). You can clear land, put up barns, have roadside stands etc. You still have to comply with local permitting requirements, but the township cannot stop you.

Yesterday after a deposition, I went to the zoning office in Evesham. In Evesham at least (I suspect other towns are like this as well), if you want to clear land for farming, you can clear up to 80% of your land!!!!! The lady told me that I might need approvals from NJ DEP and the Pinelands Commission. She looked at the property I was interested in and told me that there appeared to be a flood zone on a portion of the property, but I knew what to do about that. When I left I called both state agencies. I only got a call back from the Pinelands Commission. He was very helpful. First, the property in Evesham was wetlands; so once he realized what type of farming I was looking to do, he told me that this property would be useless. Also, he told me that unless the property was in a wetlands (which the township should know), no Pinelands Commission approval was necessary to clear land for farming. He said, I only needed township approval!!!

Well, I guess it is good that I found out about this now before I ruled out other properties. This will definitely makes the search easier. The only thing I need to verify is whether the property is in the wetlands (if it is wooded).

The other thing that is nice is that because there is a codified right to farm, if I want to do roadside stands, the township can’t not give approval.

Now to find the right place!!!

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