An Act To Authorize the Registration of Farmland
Mandate preamble. This measure requires one or more local units of government to expand or modify activities so as to necessitate additional expenditures from local revenues but does not provide funding for at least 90% of those expenditures. Pursuant to the Constitution of Maine, Article IX, Section 21, 2/3 of all of the members elected to each House have determined it necessary to enact this measure.
Emergency preamble. Whereas, acts and resolves of the Legislature do not become effective until 90 days after adjournment unless enacted as emergencies; and
Whereas, maintaining agricultural production capacity is vital to rural economies; and
Whereas, conflict may arise from siting nonfarm development adjacent to farmland; and
Whereas, this legislation will reduce potential conflict by alerting buyers when they are purchasing property abutting farmland; and
Whereas, in the judgment of the Legislature, these facts create an emergency within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine and require the following legislation as immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety; now, therefore,
Sec. 1. 7 MRSA §52, sub-§1, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 478, §1, is amended to read:
Sec. 2. 7 MRSA §52, sub-§3-A, as enacted by PL 2007, c. 649, §2, is amended to read:
Sec. 3. 7 MRSA §52, sub-§4, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 478, §1, is amended to read:
"Farmland" does not include land used for woodlots, Christmas tree production, homes, farm buildings, roads, pastures, lawns or any area covered with noncrop vegetation that borders abutting land.
Sec. 4. 7 MRSA §52, sub-§6 is enacted to read:
Sec. 5. 7 MRSA §53-A, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 478, §1, is amended to read:
§ 53-A. Eligibility
Any owner who intends to register land as farmland pursuant to section 53-B shall:
Sec. 6. 7 MRSA §53-B, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 478, §1, is amended to read:
§ 53-B. Registration in 1990 and 1991
An owner of land may register any designated portion of that land which that qualifies as farmland under this chapter as follows.
A landowner who is unable to demonstrate compliance with all registration requirements under this section may apply for registration under section 53-I but after April 1, 2013 is no longer protected from inconsistent development under section 56, subsection 1.
Sec. 7. 7 MRSA §53-C, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 478, §1, is amended to read:
§ 53-C. Registration contents and purpose
The purpose of a registration is to provide a public record of the existence of actively used farmland in order to assist public disclosure under section 55 and the setback of incompatible inconsistent development under section 56. A registration shall must include:
Records of registered farmland shall must be maintained by each municipality and county registry of deeds in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Registration shall must be on forms provided by the department.
Sec. 8. 7 MRSA §53-E, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 478, §1, is amended to read:
§ 53-E. Withdrawal
An owner of farmland shall withdraw from registration any farmland that no longer qualifies for registration under this chapter. An owner of registered farmland may withdraw farmland from registration at any time by filing a written notice of withdrawal in the office in which the farmland was registered and filing a notarized copy of the withdrawal notice for recording with the registry of deeds in the county or counties where the registration was recorded. Portions of a registered tract of farmland may be withdrawn. Withdrawal from registration under this chapter does not constitute withdrawal from classification under the Farm and Open Space Tax Law, Title 36, chapter 105, subchapter X 10. Any abutter shall must be notified in the manner provided in section 53-D using a form provided by the department.
Sec. 9. 7 MRSA §53-F, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 478, §1, is repealed.
Sec. 10. 7 MRSA §53-G, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 478, §1, is repealed.
Sec. 11. 7 MRSA §53-H, sub-§6 is enacted to read:
Sec. 12. 7 MRSA §53-I is enacted to read:
§ 53-I. Registration and renewal on or after July 1, 2012
Beginning on July 1, 2012, an owner of land may register any designated portion of that land that qualifies as farmland under this chapter by filing the information required under section 53-C with the department and the appropriate registry of deeds in accordance with this section.
Sec. 13. 7 MRSA §54, sub-§5 is enacted to read:
Sec. 14. 7 MRSA §55, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 478, §1, is repealed.
Sec. 15. 7 MRSA §56, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 478, §1, is amended to read:
§ 56. Prohibited acts
Sec. 16. 7 MRSA §57, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 478, §1, is amended to read:
§ 57. Variance
An owner of real estate may apply to the municipal zoning board of appeals or other municipal body hearing zoning appeals, or, in the case of areas within its jurisdiction, the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, for a variance permitting an inconsistent development upon or incompatible use of land which that is otherwise prohibited under section 56. Notwithstanding Title 30-A, section 4353, subsection 4, a variance may be issued if adherence to section 56 renders a parcel of land subdivided prior to registration of the farmland unusable for residential purposes. Any variance granted for such a purpose shall must be conditioned to provide the maximum feasible setback from the abutting registered farmland.
Sec. 17. 7 MRSA §58, sub-§2, ¶A, as enacted by PL 1989, c. 478, §1, is repealed.
Sec. 18. 12 MRSA §6-A, as amended by PL 2007, c. 649, §6, is further amended to read:
§ 6-A. Farmland registration
In addition to the powers assigned in section 6, a soil and water conservation district shall review applications for the registration of farmland pursuant to Title 7, chapter 2-B. The district shall, by majority vote of the supervisors, certify whether the land described in the application:
A district shall complete its review under this section must be completed by May 1st of the calendar year in which the application is made within 60 days of receiving an application.
Sec. 19. Directive to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources shall revise forms and other materials to be provided under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 7, section 53-H to accommodate the registration of farmland under Title 7, chapter 2-B. The department shall consult with the soil and water conservation districts on the process for review and certification of farmland under Title 12, section 6-A. If needed, the department may submit legislation to revise requirements and implement an efficient process for the registration of farmland.
Emergency clause. In view of the emergency cited in the preamble, this legislation takes effect July 1, 2012.