LITTLE VALLEY – Cattaraugus County is a place where your next-door neighbor may be a farm with several head of cattle. Maybe it is field after field of crops. Many people move into the area because of its bucolic attractions.
But on occasion, a new resident is not ready for life next to a farm. That’s where problems can start.
Members of the county Planning Board, under the recommendation of Chairman Charles W. Couture, will be taking a look at how solutions can be found to problems between neighbors in the rural setting.
“Recently, we have had a couple examples of disputes between farmers and their neighbors,” he said. “The problem comes with not having mediation in the county. Our Farmland Protection Board is as close as we have.”
Cattaraugus is a right-to-farm county. The law, adopted in 1995, is intended to reduce the loss of agricultural resources by limiting the circumstances under which farming may be deemed a nuisance and by supporting agricultural practices that are normal to the business of farming, according to the language of the law.
Problems come up when a new resident, or one that comes across something unfamiliar in the course of daily life, files a complaint against a farmer or an employee and doesn’t see a positive outcome.
One recent case moved directly from a dispute between a resident and a farmer to a complaint being filed with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Couture said there needs to be an intermediate step, before going to the state level, to solve problems in the county.
“In all reality, towns need to also step up on this, as well,” he said.
To deal with problems as they arise, a municipality would have to have a comprehensive plan with the possibility of zoning regulation.
“It is really difficult to get the towns to do anything when they don’t have planning or zoning,” Couture said. “I would really like to see more [municipalities] make these.”
The Planning Board plans to review the language of the right-to-farm law over the next few months in an effort to strengthen it and provide some sort of remedy through mediation.