2013 Right to Farm Legislation Defeated

Shenandoah Valley Counties and SVN successfully opposed legislation before the 2013 General Assembly that would have eliminated local zoning control over farm and rural land uses. A bill to amend the state’s right to farm law died in the Senate Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee.

The Shenandoah Valley’s local governments rallied against the legislation from Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge), HB 1430, to eliminate local zoning control over agriculture and rural land uses. The bill would have given aggrieved landowners the right to sue local governments and individual staff members for damages for upholding local zoning governing retail sales on farms.

“The bill would amend Virginia’s Right to Farm Act in a way that is a clear legislative overreach,” said SVN Executive Director Kate G. Wofford. “Del. Lingamfelter has addressed a zoning dispute in Northern Virginia’s Fauquier County by trying to dictate farm land uses to the top agricultural counties in state,” she added.

SVN encourages landowners to work with county residents and officials to change local zoning, not rush to the state legislature or to lawsuits when disagreements arise.

Del. Lingamfelter’s bill was known as the “Boneta Bill” after Martha Boneta who challenged Fauquier County’s special use permit rules for sales and events on her Paris, Virginia farm. After Fauquier passed a new on farm sales ordinance in December 2013, Ms. Boneta reportedly thanked her the chairman of the Fauquier Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors in Rockingham and Clarke County voted in early January 2013 to oppose the bill and send resolutions to their state delegates and Del. Lingamfelter.

Shenandoah County Resolution Opposing HB1430

Rockingham County Resolution Opposing HB1430

Clarke County Letter & Resolution Opposing HB 1430

SVN Press Release January 7 2013