UPDATE: The York County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 tonight to down-zone land in York Point so that these select farmers are no longer allowed to farm. In order to do this the Board had to create a brand new zoning classification.
York Supervisors voted against the recommendation of their own planning commission. It will impact 80 properties. The only dissenting vote was Supervisor Hrichak.
According to the Daily Press,
“David Phillips, a member of the York County Republican Committee, said the committee approved a resolution condemning any action that stems property rights. He said the committee “disdains the actions” by the supervisors to circumvent state farming laws.” I would expect nothing less out of this fantastic GOP Committee. Thanks to the York County Republican Committee for standing up and defending property owners.
Farmers will be seeking legal recourse, since this “spot zoning” to revoke the rights of a handful of farmers is blatantly discriminatory. Ironically, the complaining neighbor has his own oyster farm.
EARLIER TODAY: Tonight the York County Board of Supervisors is poised to revoke the property rights of a number of individuals in York County who own agriculture property by voting to down-zone their property so they can no longer use it for farming.
We have seen other localities use their brute power to harass landowners, like we saw the past few years in Fauquier County with Martha Boneta’s Liberty Farm. The General Assembly had to intervene by passing new law to stop the county from harassing Martha Boneta, but that hasn’t stopped other counties from aggressively overreaching in their communities.
I wrote extensively about this situation last month. The short story is that York County has been a farming community since the English first traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to settle here. Many landowners are zoned agriculture, but the county has been in a multi-year battle to strip them of their farming rights because of a few disgruntled neighbors. Farmers won in court in their initial lawsuit. The county appealed and won on a technicality (aquaculture versus agriculture) that created a setback for these farmers. The General Assembly passed a law last year to resolve any ambiguities by clarifying that farming is both aquaculture and agriculture.
Even though the farmers had the favor of the courts and the General Assembly, the county has refused to stop their assault on the landowners and is now poised to down-zone these farmers tonight. Keep in mind that this land has been zoned agriculture since colonial times!
Interestingly, the Board’s own Planning Commission has unanimously voted to recommend that the current agriculture zoning remain in place for York Point. Therefore, if the York County Board of Supervisor strips the farmers of their rights, they will be doing so against the recommendation of their own Planning Commission as well!
Last month many turned out to protest this outrageous behavior by the Board of Supervisor during their citizen hearing meeting. Delegate Brenda Pogge was their to express her support of the landowners. Many other citizens also attended and expressed concern that their own land rights could be threatened in the future given the aggressive proclivity of the York County Board of Supervisors.
I encourage you to lend your voice to this fight if you believe property rights are a quintessential component of our freedom. Please see the below email that was sent by one of the farmers being threatened:
YORK COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS VOTING TO STRIP FARMING RIGHTSJUNE 17 2014, 7PMYork Hall in historic Yorktown301 Main St, Yorktown, VAMap here: http://goo.gl/maps/xkmgROn Tuesday June 17, the York County Board of Supervisors will vote on the first steps to strip agriculture from York County. They will vote on creating the purely residential R33 zone to replace the Rural Residential (RR) zone for the express purpose of stripping citizens ability to conduct agriculture.
They will also vote to apply this new R33 zone to the York Point area where embattled oyster farming Anthony Bavuso operates his farm. The York County planning commission has voted unanimously to recommend denial of the York Point rezoning, but the Board of Supervisors are poised to vote to approve it in spite of the PC recommendation.
The creation of the R33 zone and the York Point rezoning will be the first dominos to fall. County staff have identified 80 other neighborhoods that they believe should also be rezoned to R33.
This is an unprecedented land grab! York County citizens have conducted agriculture in York County since Colonial times.
Please write an email to the York Board telling them to vote NO on R33 and NO on the the York Point rezoning.
BOS email addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org