LYME — Tonight’s Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing for a number of zoning changes, including new agricultural regulations, has been postponed until March or April – however, tonight the commission will hold a “working group” for the public to comment on the amendments as written.
Ross Byrne, Zoning Enforcement Officer, told CT Examiner that postponing tonight’s public hearing will give the commission more time to organize the amendments and to provide the public with a clear explanation of proposed changes and deletions.
He said the commission had been working with farmers in town to write the regulations since no agriculture regulations currently exist.
“The hardest thing about writing the regulations is how do you allow small farmers to do stuff that you don’t want industrial size farms to do,” he said. “The amount of regulation is based on how intense it gets.
For example, a farmer can place a wagon with vegetables for sale on the roadside without a problem, Byrne said, but opening a farm store would require a special permit.
But some farmers may be worried that future members of the commission may interpret the language differently, Byrne said.
“I think they might be concerned about some of the things that are in there to prevent an intense operation that is going to affect neighbors is going to hurt them in the future if the attitude of the commission changes,” he said. “Right now the attitude of the commission is very pro-farming… but they’re concerned that someday somebody else in my position may not have the same attitude about the commercial aspect of farming and the regulations could be used or interpreted differently.”
Byrne said the regulations were written so that the commission could review the activities, but “you don’t want to burden [the farmers] with a lot of bureaucracy.”
He said the town had been working on the regulations since 2016, but recently his attorney said the regulations as written are not going to be technically legal.
“Just when we thought we were done, we’re starting over on some of the regulations,” he said.
The public hearing will be postponed until March or April, Byrne said.