Agricultural property: Land used to grow crops or rear animals.
Agricultural property: Land used primarily for agricultural or horticultural purposes, such as raising, harvesting, and selling crops, as well as feeding, breeding and managing farm animals, unless legally zoned otherwise by a zoning authority.
Example: “This is farmland, this is not a subdivision area,” she said at the meeting. “We don’t want the development here, it’s as simple as that. It’s agricultural property.”
What Exactly Constitutes Agricultural Property?
Agricultural property, land devoted to agriculture, rearing livestock and crop production, is synonymous with both farmland or pasture land.
In this context, agricultural property or agriculturally-zoned land indicates plots permitted to be used for agricultural activities, regardless of their present use or suitability. In some areas, agricultural property is protected to prevent development. Most states have their own definition of agricultural property.
In recent years, agricultural property in certain areas has come under scrutiny as businesses have attempted to exploit agricultural property for other zoning uses, such as hosting weddings, shooting fireworks and selling alcoholic beverages.
In Michigan, Washtenaw County’s Webster Township’s planning commission approved changes to the zoning ordinance to do away with seasonal agritourism on agricultural property. Some local businesses have not been happy with the amendments.
“They’re going over their bounds on regulating businesses in the township,” said Ryan Nixon, owner of Nixon Farms, which sued the township over being denied the permission to host weddings on his property.
The township does allow hay rides, pumpkin patches and corn mazes, as well as Christmas tree farms, but in addition to using the property for raising crops and animals.
The ordinance prohibits using agricultural property for “selling or serving alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises; music, loudspeakers, gunfire, fireworks or other non-agricultural sounds audible outside the boundaries of the property; or wedding barns, event barns or use of the property or any portion to host weddings, parties, receptions or other special events.”
The Nixon family, which has owned the property since 1919, had recently marketed its property to host weddings and corn mazes.
Judge Timothy Connors gave both parties thirty days to reach an agreement before making a formal decision, but the planning commission moved forward with the changes. Nixon wants to get the issue on the ballot so voters can decide on the ballot what constitutes appropriate activities for agricultural property.
“Nixon is pursuing the petition because, based upon the public comments, the amended zoning ordinance does not reflect what the residents want and it appears to be an attempt to circumvent the court ruling while limiting other activities not at issue in the lawsuit, including the corn maze,” says attorney Stephon Bagne, who represents Nixon. “The zoning amendment is harmful to farmers, who are supporting him.”