The Town of Crawford February Board Meeting included an extension of the January public hearing allowing comment regarding the proposed introductory local law, “Farm Related Zoning Amendments.” Supervisor Charles Carnes explained the public hearing is a continuation from January and the main concerns were being addressed as a result of the owner of Farmhood Fields, Zeke Alenick, sending a letter to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets regarding the setbacks he has experienced, the timeframe of approvals and the definition of what is included in the scenic zone. As a result, the Town of Crawford has drafted the amendments to be discussed.
Over 30 concerned members of the community were in attendance, several comments were made to the Board expressing concerns around both the language and content of the proposed amendments.
Linda Rogers-Seeley asked for an explanation regarding both the state’s ability to supersede local zoning laws. Supervisor Carnes explained the State agency does overrule local law. Marianne Serratore identified herself as a village resident who objected to the language used in the proposed amendment as it “looks like in this law there is no oversite,” and objected to the lack of a public hearing if changes do not effect the scenic corridor. Councilmember Rory Holmes responded by explaining the difference would be if the owner wanted to put up a run-in shed which would not be visible from the road versus 40 grain silos which would require a public hearing.
Councilmember Mike Menendez also addressed the concern regarding the role the Department of Agriculture and Markets has as, “They (Department of Agriculture and Markets) feel they are more important than ever as a community encroaches on the farms.” Menendez also restated the concern farms have regarding timing and the Departments Rule 305 states a farm cannot be held up for over 62 days. Carnes also asked, “Everyone understands this is only for the housing of animals, correct?”
Attorney Bruce Dunn, representing Lynn Butler whose property borders Farmhood Fields, stated the amendments were being presented despite the laws in place since 1959 regarding 150’ rather than the proposed 50’ of distance (between any building or structure used to house or stable animals from all property lines) which had never been a problem until now. Dunn stated, “You might as well call it Farmhood Fields Law,” before continuing to say, “He has a hundred of acres. There is no reason for a building, barns or feeding stations to be less than 150’ from the property line. It’s hard to tell if Farmhood Fields is a farmer or a developer.”
Candace Scott, also among those to speak stated, “These meetings are our checks and balances and we don’t have anything to measure it by (the placement of a run-in shed), they can move the goal post.”
Property owner Lynn Butler also spoke on her own behalf and expressed concerns regarding past fires, smoke, huge vehicles being driven on the property line, animals at the property line and more. Supervisor Carnes responded by saying some of Butler’s concerns were for the Planning Board as well as other agencies.
Orange County Legislator, Robert Sassi proposed the Department of Agriculture and Markets be invited to speak at a future Board meeting for the public’s benefit.
The Town Board voted to continue the public hearing at the March 19 Board Meeting. Additional public hearings are scheduled for the same meeting regarding the Pedestrian Safety Project, Introductory Local Law Addition to Opt Out of Real Property Tax Law 487 Exemption, and the FY-20201 CDBG community funding application.
With a projected opening date of April 6, the Farmhood Fields website (farmhoodfields.com) includes a December 11, 2019 letter of support written by Supervisor Carnes as well as other details about the scope and intent of the planned agri-community including details about the various livestock on the premise, the greenhouse and hope to attract members with skilled trade backgrounds to become “one of twelve founding members” to live on the 600+ acre property on Crans Mill Road.