If you own farmland in Ottawa County, there is a law, Senate Bill 78, The Farmland Preservation Act, that removes outside pressures that can cause farmland to be converted to other uses.
This law can help landowners deal with water and sewer assessments, nuisance lawsuits and the powers of eminent domain. It permits an owner of farmland to create an Agricultural District, provided certain requirements are met.
Owners of land in an Agricultural District receive:
- Deferment of any new assessments for such improvements as water or sewer systems as long as the land continues to be farmed.
- Legal protection for any generally accepted agricultural practice in the event of a nuisance lawsuit filed against the farming operation.
- Limited protection against the use of eminent domain power of government. (A governmental entity may only appropriate 10% or 10 acres of land within an Agricultural District.)
- Protects farm market operators from certain zoning regulations and requires the power siting commission to consider the impact of new power facilities on land in an Agricultural District.
Requirements to form an Agricultural District
- The land must be devoted exclusively to agriculture or to an improved federal government land retirement or conservation program.
- The land must be composed of tracts, lots or parcels that total not less than ten (10) acres or, if less than ten acres, have an average annual gross income of $2,500 from agricultural production during the previous three years, or can provide evidence that this level of income will be achieved at the time of application.
To form an Agricultural District
Any owner of land used in agricultural production, who meets the necessary qualifications, can place land in an agricultural district by filing an application with the Ottawa County Auditor’s office.
If the land is located within the boundaries of a municipal corporation, an additional application must be made to the city or village.
There is no cost or fee for filing the application. If approved, the Agricultural District will be in effect for five (5) years from the date of application.