Town approves draft Agricultural Protection Plan

— As part of its ongoing efforts to protect, encourage and enhance agricultural development and preservation in the town of Cazenovia, the Cazenovia Town Board has approved a draft Agricultural Protection Plan after more than one year of ongoing work.

The plan identifies locations in the town that consist of high quality agricultural soils that are suitable for agricultural production, and offers policies and recommendations designed to encourage the long-term protection of farmland, farm-friendly development regulations, agriculture-related economic development and tourism and increased public awareness of the importance of agriculture to the community.

“This does not have the force of law but has lots of resources and ideas to protect farmland,” Councilor Kristi Andersen, the board’s point person on the issue, told the board at its Jan. 14 meeting. Having such a plan on the books not only protects farmland but also “gives you points” with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets when the town applies for future agriculture-related grants, she said.

The plan, begun in 2010 in cooperation with the towns of Nelson and Lincoln, was created with grant funding from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

The three towns began in 2011 to document farmland resources in the towns and to identify potential strategies and recommend actions to support agriculture and protect farmland. Each town agreed to jointly retain the consulting firm of Stuart I. Brown Associates to assist in the preparation of the plan, as well as to create individual steering committees — including farmers, local officials and landowners from each of the three towns — to assist with community outreach, policy establishment and draft reviewing.

Multiple public meetings also were held at which farmers, farmland owners, business operators and residents were invited to attend and provide input. The towns’ planning consultant presented an overview of the findings and recommendations and answered questions at a June 2012 meeting in the town of Nelson.

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