Chapter 18I.35
RIGHT TO FARM PROTECTIONS

Sections:

18I.35.010    Purpose.

18I.35.020    Definitions.

18I.35.030    Nuisance.

18I.35.040    Notification.

18I.35.050    Complaints.

18I.35.010 Purpose.

The Pierce County Council finds that: (1) commercially viable agricultural land exists within the County, and (2) it is in the public interest to enhance and encourage agricultural operations within the County. The Council also finds that residential and commercial development adjacent to agricultural property and agricultural operations may lead to restrictions on agriculture and agricultural operations to the detriment of the other agricultural uses, and cause diminished economic viability of agricultural industry in the County.

The purpose of this Chapter is to promote public health, safety, and welfare, and to support and encourage continued agricultural operations in the County. This Chapter is not intended to modify or abridge State nuisance laws, but is to be used in the interpretation and enforcement of the provisions of this Code and County regulations.

(Ord. 2002-94s § 1 (part), 2002)

18I.35.020 Definitions.

For the purpose of this Chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

A.    "Farm" means the land, buildings, waters, culturing and growing facilities, and machinery used in the commercial production of farm products. For purposes of this Chapter, agricultural education and research facilities shall be included in this definition.

B.    "Commercially productive farm" means farms raising plants and/or animals for profit with a gross income of greater than $1,000 per year

C.    "Farm product" means those plants and animals useful to humans and includes, but is not limited to, forages and sod crops, dairy and dairy products, poultry and poultry products, livestock, including breeding, grazing, and recreational equine use, fruits, vegetables, flowers, seeds, grasses, trees, aquaculture and fish products, apiaries, equine and other similar products, or any other product which incorporates the use of food, feed, fiber, or fur. Farm product does not include kennels as defined in Chapter 5.24 PCC.

D.    "Agricultural Operation" means a condition or activity which occurs on a farm in connection with the commercial production of farm products and includes, but is not limited to, marketed produce at roadside stands or farm markets; noise; odors; dust; fumes; operation of machinery and irrigation pumps; movement, including, but not limited to, use of current county road ditches, streams, rivers, canals, and drains, and use of water for agricultural activities; ground and aerial application of seed, fertilizers, conditioners, and plant protection products; employment and use of labor; roadway movement of equipment and livestock; protection from damage by wildlife; prevention of trespass; construction and maintenance of buildings, fences, roads, bridges, ponds, drains, waterways, and similar features and maintenance of streambanks and watercourses; and conversion from one agricultural activity to another. It shall also include recycling of organic waste on a farm.

(Ord. 2002-94s § 1 (part), 2002)

18I.35.030 Nuisance.

Agricultural operations conducted on farmland, if consistent with good agricultural practices and established prior to surrounding nonagricultural activities, are presumed to be reasonable and shall not be found to constitute a nuisance unless the activity has a substantial adverse effect on the public health and safety.

If those agricultural operations are undertaken in conformity with all applicable laws and rules, then the operations are presumed to be good agricultural practices not adversely affecting the public health and safety and such activities shall not constitute a nuisance for purposes of this Chapter. Agricultural operations that are in conformity with such laws and rules shall not be restricted as to the hours of the day or day or days of the week during which it may be conducted.

Nothing in this Chapter shall affect or impair any right to sue for damages.

(Ord. 2002-94s § 1 (part), 2002)

18I.35.040 Notification.

A.    Map of Agricultural Operations. The first step in implementing a notification program for the purpose of public education about the effects of agricultural operations is to identify the properties where such operations are occurring. A map of existing agricultural operations shall be prepared by the Department of Planning and Public Works with the assistance of the Farm Advisory Commission. Such properties shall be identified through various survey methods using criteria developed for that purpose. The resulting map shall be reviewed and adopted by the County Council prior to implementing the notification programs in B. below. The map shall be updated and amended every two years.

B.    Notification.

1.    Every owner of property within 2,500 feet of properties conducting agricultural operations, as identified on the map developed pursuant to 18I.35.040 A., shall be notified of the proximity of the agricultural operations and the nuisance protections afforded by State and local laws. The Department of Planning and Public Works shall provide notification within 90 days after County Council adoption of an ordinance creating or amending the Agricultural Operations Map developed pursuant to 18I.35.040 A.

2.    The Department of Planning and Public Works shall provide access to the Agricultural Operations Map through the County's website.

3.    The Department shall provide notification of the purpose and availability of the Agricultural Operations Map to real estate offices in the County. This notification shall be provided within 90 days of adoption of the Map and each time the Map is amended. This notice shall advise real estate agents and brokers of the Right to Farm protections provided by this Chapter and request that information about the proximity of agricultural operations be included in a disclosure notice in a buyer's purchase agreement for affected properties.

(Ord. 2017-12s § 2 (part), 2017; Ord. 2002-94s § 1 (part), 2002)

18I.35.050 Complaints.

A.    Filing. Complaints about off-site effects and impacts of agricultural operations shall be filed with the appropriate review authority. The Planning and Public Works (PPW) Department enforces the provisions of the Pierce County Development Regulations contained within the Title 18 series. These codes and regulations include, but are not limited to: the Uniform Building Code; Uniform Mechanical Code; Uniform Plumbing Code; Uniform Fire Code; Zoning and Sign Regulations; Energy Code; grading, filling, and clearing; flood damage prevention; road approach standards; and other construction and development-related regulations. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) enforces the adopted provisions regarding any declared nuisance, source of filth or cause or probable cause of injury to health (see Chapter 8.08 PCC).

B.    Monitoring Complaints. The Planning and Public Works Department and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department shall be responsible for maintaining a record of nuisance complaints related to agricultural operations and forwarding a summary of the subject complaints to the Pierce County Farm Advisory Commission (PCFAC) on a semi-annual basis. The PCFAC shall review and consider the issues raised in the complaints and may make recommendations to the Council and Executive on appropriate changes in agricultural policies, programs or regulations to address complaints.

(Ord. 2017-12s § 2 (part), 2017; Ord. 2002-94s § 1 (part), 2002)