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(A) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to help meet the needs of agriculture as an industry and prevent conflicts between voluntary agricultural district participants and non-farm landowners in proximity to districts.
(B) Public Notification.
(1) The Advisory Board, in cooperation with the county, shall take measures as set forth below to provide notification to property owners, residents, and other interested persons in and adjacent to any designated agricultural district with a goal of informing all current and potential residents and property owners in and adjacent to an agricultural district, that farming and agricultural activities may take place in this district any time during the day or night.
(a) Signs identifying approved agricultural districts shall be placed along the rights-of-way of major roads.
(b) Information identifying approved districts shall be provided to the Register of Deeds Office, the Ashe Soil and Water Conservation District, the Cooperative Extension Service, the Farm Service Agency, the Ashe County Planning and Inspections Department, and the Ashe County Tax Department.
(c) The following notice shall be displayed in a prominent position in the office of the Register of Deeds and the public access area in the Ashe County Tax Department:
NOTICE TO REAL ESTATE PURCHASERS IN ASHE COUNTY ASHE COUNTY AGRICULTURAL DISTRICTS
Ashe County has established agricultural districts to protect and preserve agricultural lands and activities. These districts have been developed and mapped to inform all purchasers of real property that certain agricultural activities, including but not limited to pesticide spraying, manure spreading, machinery and truck operations, livestock operations, sawing, and similar activities may take place in these districts any time during the day or night. Maps and/or information on the location and establishment of these districts can be obtained from the Cooperative Extension Service, County Planning and Inspections Department, Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency, and the County Tax Department.
(2) Limit of Liability. In no event shall the county or any of its officers, employees, or agents be held liable in damages for any misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance occurring in good faith in connection with the duties or obligations imposed by this chapter.
(C) Expenditure of County Funds for Non-Farm Uses. Prior to expending any monies that would convert land in a voluntary agricultural district to non-farm uses, the county or any other local unit of government shall submit to the Advisory Board detailed information showing that said governmental unit has considered alternatives. Such consideration shall include the criteria listed in § 161.10(B)(3) (a through c).
(D) Waiver of Water and Sewer Assessments.
(1) Purpose. The purpose of this subsection is to help mitigate the financial impacts on farmers by some local and state capital investments unused by such farmers.
(2) Procedure. The waiver procedure shall be as follows:
(a) Landowners belonging to voluntary agricultural districts shall not be assessed for, or required to connect to, water and/or sewer systems.
(b) Water and sewer assessments shall be held in abeyance, without interest, for farms inside a voluntary agricultural district, until improvements on such property are connected to the water or sewer system for which the assessment was made.
(c) When the period of abeyance ends, the assessment is payable in accordance with the terms set out in the assessment resolution.
(d) Statutes of limitations are suspended during the time that any assessment is held in abeyance without interest.
(e) Assessment procedures followed under G.S. § 153A-185 et seq. shall conform to the terms of this section with respect to qualifying farms that entered into preservation agreements while such section was in effect.
(f) Nothing in this subsection is intended to diminish the authority of the county to hold assessments in abeyance under G.S. § 153A-201.
(Ord. passed 7-16-01)