Ordinance change will protect urban farms
Farms are busy, noisy and frequently foul smelling.
City residents moving into new developments that border agricultural areas often find normal farm activities to be a nuisance.
In an effort to provide relief to West Jordan farmers, the mayor and council voted March 12 to change part of the city’s existing nuisance ordinance. Agricultural activities are now exempt from the definition of a nuisance.
“We had a situation where there were agricultural activities that have been in the community since we’ve been a community, and then residential areas moved in,” City Manager Rick Davis said. “This develops a lot of complaints that staff has to deal with. We have to interrupt farming activities to address it.”
Salt Lake County Farm Bureau President Betty Naylor explained that while residents moving into these communities may love the open space, they don’t always care for the other aspects of agriculture that are essential to keeping a farm productive.
It’s difficult for neighbors to understand why farmers need to burn ditches, plow dusty fields, or cut hay during night, she said.
Animal noises can also be annoying to individuals unaccustomed to living near a farm.
“In the farming community, obviously if you feed, tend, care and clean free animals, they are not going to create unnecessary noise,” Naylor said. “However, during breeding season, calving season and weaning season, some mooing, bleating and so forth is part of what goes on in normal farming activities.”
Naylor is hopeful that the ordinance change will help foster better understanding and relationships between farms and residents, while allowing farmers to continue their work without fear of persistent complaints.
“The nuisance ordinance helps us, protects us and allows us to continue our farming activities, which have to be provided, in a safe, prudent and well-managed way,” she said.
As the change goes into effect, enforcement officers will no longer respond to nuisance complaints regarding the site, sound, smell and dust related to regular farming activity
In West Jordan, there are four farms that have been in continuous operation for over a century. There are several other newer farms that remain active throughout the city.
Prior to the ordinance change, the farms were protected under the state’s Right to Farm Act, but were not exempt from the city’s nuisance regulations.
Naylor began discussions with city staff last year after receiving a plea for assistance from a farm owner in West Jordan.