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9/27/2017 Sen. Morgan applauds demise of Exeter’s farm overlay plan
STATE HOUSE – Senator Elaine J. Morgan (R-Dist. 34, Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond, West Greenwich) today applauded the Exeter Town Council decision to kill the “Exeter Farm and Forest Accessory Business Overlay” plan, which had the potential to infringe on the property rights of farmers in town.

“While I am happy that the town council listened to the will of the people and decided not to adopt the ordinance, this is just another example of the ‘Rhode MapRI/RI Rising’ type of thinking infiltrating our towns,” Morgan said.  “We made a clear, level-headed argument to the town council that this is yet another attempt at overreach by government entities to advance a radical environmental agenda and to restrict the property rights of farmers and other property owners.”

Morgan said while she believes land use decisions should remain in the hands of municipalities, it is important that residents understand that ordinances like the proposed Farm Business Overlay are part of a larger anti-business, ill-defined “green” agenda.  To that end, she is still working to ensure that the Department of Environmental Management’s proposed “Farmland Access Program,” protects the rights of property owners.

The proposal stems from a 2014 bond question that voters approved that permitted $3 million to be used to “protect the state’s working farms.”  Morgan said she is concerned the plan DEM favors is too loosely defined and has problems.

“This plan states that its purpose is to permanently protect farm properties, but it doesn’t define ‘permanently protect’ nor does it define what they consider to be an ‘affordable transfer,’” Morgan said.

“What if the DEM buys out parcels of farms in our area, and the people who buy the farms fail – what happens to the land then?” Morgan asked.

Under the DEM proposal, owners of existing farmland would be allowed to sell portions of their land to the DEM.  The DEM would then solicit “farmer-buyers” and “facilitate the affordable transfer” of the land for use as farmland.

Morgan says the plan as it is written is too broad and undefined and gives the DEM and state agencies too much room to impose their own discretion, which could undermine the program’s goal of permanently protecting farmland.

For more information, contact:
Katie Haughey Cardoza, Senate Minority Office
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2708