WOODSTOCK — Following in the footsteps of both Rockingham and Clarke counties, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution last week opposing proposed legislation that would affect local agriculture operations as well as zoning laws.
Rockingham County officials approved the same resolution on Jan. 9 that expresses opposition to a bill introduced by Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge.
The legislation would amend the Virginia Right to Farm Act to allow farmers to sell “incidental” products that were not necessarily produced on the property, such as art, literature and artifacts.
The bill would take away certain regulatory powers from localities, such as requiring permits to charge money for weddings, festivals or other special events held on property zoned for agricultural use. It also would no longer require farm buildings, even those used for retail purposes, to be up to building and fire codes.
The board voted 4-1 in favor of the resolution on Jan. 22. Board Chairman Conrad Helsley was not present. Supervisor Steve Baker, a full-time farmer near Mount Jackson, cast the lone dissenting vote.
“I felt that there were certain aspects of [the bill] that would broaden agricultural activities,” he said.
But Baker said he was not in support of the entire legislation, and advocated that Shenandoah County draft a more detailed resolution opposing only certain parts of the bill.
“Other board members did not want to go that route,” he said.
Supervisor Dennis Morris, also a farmer in Toms Brook, voted to oppose the legislation.
“I don’t think the issue is about the right to farm as much as it is on the local control,” he said. “We [as a county] are very open-minded when it comes to things that relate to farming.”
The bill as a whole, however, would not be beneficial to Shenandoah County, Morris said.
“There are some good things in that bill, but also some that I don’t support,” he said. “If the bill goes away, it will be a good thing.”
The resolution will be provided to both Lingamfelter and local lawmakers.