Includes New Guidance on Renewable Energy Usage
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. today released an updated and refreshed “Agriculture-Friendly Oneida County” municipal planning guide, a document that aids local towns in developing comprehensive plans and policies, establishing agricultural districts, receiving agricultural assessments and setting up land use regulations.
The updated document addresses the changing agricultural landscape as it pertains to renewable energy, including the use of agricultural land for solar arrays and other renewable energy uses.
“Agriculture is the biggest industry in Oneida County and assisting our municipalities in how to capitalize and develop this industry responsibly and effectively has always been a top priority,” Picente said. “This update to our Ag-Friendly municipal planning guide will continue to put our towns in the position to best utilize their assets, especially as we face a changing landscape in dealing with renewable energies and farmland protection.”
The purpose of the guide is to provide municipalities with:
- A reference guide to be used in developing comprehensive plans and land use regulations, i.e. zoning regulations or amendments to those documents.
- Information regarding current agricultural–related laws and programs — such as NYS Agricultural Districts Law, Agricultural Assessments and Farmland Protection Implementation Grants —that they can support and would encourage landowner participation.
- Information on the process to develop Carbon-Free Energy Sources (Wind and Solar Arrays) on agricultural land.
- A checklist of items they can use to determine if their municipality is agriculture-friendly.
- Information on the characteristics of agriculture-friendly comprehensive plans, land use regulations and municipal policies.
- Information on additional steps municipalities can take on their own to further farmland protection in their municipality, such as a Right to Farm Law or Municipal Farmland Protection Plan.
- Samples of agriculture-related deﬁnitions municipalities can use when developing and updating land use regulations.
- A list of resources municipalities can refer to when adopting or amending comprehensive plans and land use regulations.
- The identification of county contacts municipalities can rely on when adopting or amending comprehensive plans and land use regulations.
- Assistance in the creation of a uniform approach in developing plans, policies and regulations for agriculture throughout the county.
“This planning guide will prove to be an essential tool for fostering agriculture in all of the municipalities in Oneida County,” said Oneida County Commissioner of Planning, James Genovese. “We will continue to make this guide available to all town, city and village boards, as well as all planning boards and zoning boards of appeals. Through municipal planning efforts, the goal is to have these entities continue to use this guide to foster proper agricultural development while providing regular updates to address new challenges and opportunities for our farmers and farmland.”
Oneida County Department of Planning and Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County staff will be providing further assistance by working with municipalities to develop ag-friendly comprehensive plans, land use regulations and municipal farmland protection plans.
“We are extremely fortunate that the County Executive, Board of Legislators and other local leaders recognize the importance of agriculture in Oneida County,” said CCE Oneida County Executive Director Mary Beth McEwen. “The Ag-Friendly municipal guide is a resource for municipalities interested in creating and strengthening a farm-friendly environment for agricultural businesses.”