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Posted on: August 26, 2020

Orange County conducting Eight-Year Agricultural District Review

Orange County Seal

Goshen, N.Y. - The Orange County Department of Planning is in the process of conducting its eight-year Agricultural District Review, as required by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYS Ag & Markets).  This review is in coordination with the Orange County Legislature and the Office of Real Property.

According to NYS Ag & Markets Law section 303, the eight-year review is the only time when properties that are no longer being used for agriculture (single-family residences, big-box development, and other non-agricultural uses) can be removed from the district.

Notices have gone out to approximately 12,500 property owners across Orange County. The notices are one of three types:  one simply reclassifies an individual property from district 2 to district 1, which has no effect other than amending the district number; the second type of notice was mailed to parcels that are no longer used for agriculture and will thus be removed unless the landowner protests; and the third letter indicates that the parcels will be added to the district because it is in agricultural use but was not within the district.

Typically, smaller properties, once part of larger farming operations but now often single-family lots, are being considered for removal from the County’s agricultural district. The reason it is important to remove lands that are not viable farmland and/or used for agricultural purposes is because NYS Agriculture and Markets Law states that agricultural districts must consist predominantly (roughly 50%) of viable agricultural land, and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets will review the proposed district modifications in Orange County to ensure this criteria is met.

If a property owner wants to maintain their lot in the agricultural district, they should email Planning Commissioner Alan Sorensen at ASorensen@orangecountygov.com and indicate their address and if they have it, their Section Block and Lot number (i.e. tax map number), and advise that they want to remain in the district. Their property will then be recommended to stay in the district.

Any such request must be made no later than November, 4th, 2020.

Sorensen stated that the inclusion or exclusion from the agricultural district has no effect on property taxes for the parcels of land.  The purpose of being included in the agricultural district is to enable the property to avail itself of New York’s “Right to Farm” law, which creates a presumption of the property as agriculturally viable when certain farming practices occur on the property. 

The Orange County Legislature will make a final determination locally and then send that determination to the State, likely in November. 

For more information, contact Justin Rodriguez, Assistant to the County Executive for Communications and Media Relations at 845.291.3255 or jrodriguez@orangecountygov.com.

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