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Southampton Township Farm Ownership Ordinance

Southampton Township
Franklin County, Pennsylvania
Ordinance No. 2000-

AN ORDINANCE OF SOUTHAMPTON TOWNSHIP, FRANKLIN COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, PROHIBITING CORPORATE OR SYNDICATE OWNERSHIP OF ANY REAL ESTATE USED FOR FARMING IN SOUTHAMPTON TOWNSHIP; PROVIDING FOR CERTAIN LIMITED EXCEPTIONS TO CORPORATE OR SYNDICATE OWNERSHIP; AND PROVIDING FOR ENFORCEMENT AND PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION OF THE ORDINANCE.

Section 1. Name. The name of this Ordinance shall be the "Southampton Township Farm Ownership Ordinance."

Section 2. Authority. This Ordinance is adopted and enacted pursuant to the authority granted to the Township by all relevant state and federal laws including, but not limited to the following:

    * The provisions of the Second Class Township Code Article XV, as codified in 53 P.S. §66501 et seq. to provide for the protection and preservation of the natural resources and human resources, and to promote, protect, and facilitate public health, safety, and welfare.

    * The provisions of the Second Class Township Code, Article XVI, as codified in 53 P.S. §66601 et seq. authorizes the Township to enact ordinances dealing with the protection of the township residents' health, nuisances, and promotion of public safety.

    * The provisions of the Second Class Township Code, Article XV, as codified in Section 1532 of the Second Class Township Code, which authorizes regulation of transient merchants within the Township.

Section 3. Purpose. The general purpose of this Ordinance is to recognize that farm ownership by families and non-corporate entities offers stability and encourages a rural quality of life in Franklin County. The Southampton Township Supervisors also recognize that compensation for any harms caused by corporate farming may be difficult to obtain through a corporation, and that corporations have fewer reasons to respect the natural environment and township community than do natural persons. The Southampton Township Supervisors also recognize
that non-family owned industrial agriculture represents a threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the Township's residents and to the Township environment upon which residents rely for their health, safety, and quality of life. Finally, the Supervisors also recognize that non-family owned industrial agricultural facilities have caused environmental degradation and endangered citizens in other states, and that a broad range of literature exists that documents those problems.


Section 4. Statement of Law. No corporation or syndicate may acquire, or otherwise obtain an interest, whether legal, beneficial, or otherwise, in any real estate used for farming in this Township, or engage in farming. The term "corporation" means any corporation organized under the laws of any state of the United States or any country. The term "syndicate" includes any limited partnership, limited liability partnership, business trust, or limited liability company organized under the laws of any state of the United States or any country. A syndicate does not include general partnerships, except general partnerships in which nonfamily farm syndicates or nonfamily farm corporations are partners. The term, "farming", means the cultivation of land for the production of agricultural crops, fruit, or other horticultural products, or the ownership, keeping, or feeding of animals for the production of livestock or livestock products.


Section 5. Exceptions. The restrictions in Section Four of this Ordinance do not apply to:

(1) A family farm corporation or syndicate. A family farm corporation or syndicate is a corporation or syndicate engaged in farming or the ownership of agricultural land, in which seventy-five percent (75%) of the partnership interests, shares, stock, or other ownership interests are held by members of a family or a trust created for the benefit of a member of that family. The term, "family", means natural persons related to one another within the fourth degree of kinship according to civil law, or their spouses. In order to qualify for this exception, at least one of the family members in a family farm corporation or syndicate shall reside on or be actively engaged in the day-to-day labor and management of the farm located within Southampton Township. Day-to-day labor and management shall require both daily and routine substantial physical exertion and administration. None of the corporation's or syndicate's partners, members, or stockholders may be nonresident aliens, or other corporations or syndicates, unless all of the stockholders, members, or partners of such entities are persons related within the fourth degree of kinship to the majority of partners, members, or stockholders in the family farm corporation or syndicate;

(2) Agricultural land acquired or leased, or livestock kept, fed or owned, by a cooperative organized under the laws of any state, if a majority of the shares or other interests of ownership in the cooperative are held by members in the cooperative who are natural persons actively engaged in the day-to-day labor and management of a farm, or family farm corporations or syndicates, and who either (1) acquire from the cooperative, through purchase or otherwise, such livestock, or crops produced on such land, or (2) deliver to the cooperative, through sale or otherwise, crops to be used in the keeping or feeding of such livestock;

(3) Nonprofit corporations organized under state non-profit corporation law;

(4) Agricultural land, which, as of the approval date of this Ordinance, is being farmed, which is owned or leased (or in which there is a legal or beneficial interest; directly or indirectly owned, acquired, or obtained by a corporation or syndicate), or if such land or other interest is held in continuous ownership or under continuous lease by the same such corporation or syndicate. For the purposes of this exemption, land purchased on a binding and irrevocable contract signed as of the approval date of this Ordinance is considered as owned on that date;

(5) Livestock, which as of the approval date of this Ordinance, is owned by a corporation or syndicate. For the purposes of this exemption, livestock to be produced under contract for a corporation or syndicate are considered as owned, if the contract is for the keeping or feeding of livestock and is (1) signed as of the approval date of this Ordinance, and (2) if the livestock continues to be housed in a building in which livestock had been housed as of the date of this ordinance, and (3) if the contract remains in effect and is not terminated by either party to the contract. Should a building currently housing livestock be destroyed by fire or other natural disaster, this exemption shall apply to any replacement building built, so long as said replacement building has total square footage equal to or less than the original building. This exemption does not extend beyond the term of any contract signed as of the approval date of this ordinance;

(6) A farm operated for research or experimental purposes, if any commercial sales from the farm are only incidental to the research or experimental objectives of the corporation or syndicate;

(7) Land leases by alfalfa processors for the production of alfalfa;

(8) Agricultural land operated for the purpose of growing seed, nursery plants, or sod;

(9) Mineral rights on agricultural land;

(10) Agricultural land acquired or leased by a corporation or syndicate for immediate or potential nonfarming purposes, for a period of five (5) years from the date of purchase. A corporation or syndicate may hold such agricultural land in such acreage as may be necessary to its nonfarm business operation, but pending the development of the agricultural land for nonfarm purposes, such land may not be used for farming except under lease to a family farm corporation or family farm syndicate or a non syndicate or noncorporate farm;

(11) Agricultural lands or livestock acquired by a corporation or syndicate by process of law in the collection of debts, or by any procedures for the enforcement of a lien, encumbrance, or claim thereon, whether created by mortgage or otherwise. Any lands so acquired shall be disposed of within a period of five (5) years and may not be used for farming before being disposed of, except under a lease to a family farm corporation or syndicate, or a nonsyndicate or noncorporate farm. Any livestock so acquired shall be disposed of within six months;

(12) Agricultural lands held by a state or nationally chartered bank as trustee for a person, corporation, or syndicate that is otherwise exempt from the provisions of this Ordinance, inclusive of this Article;

(13) A bona fide encumbrance taken for purposes of security;

(14) Custom spraying, fertilizing, or harvesting;

(15) Livestock futures contracts, livestock purchased for slaughter within two (2) weeks of the purchase date, or livestock purchased and resold within two (2) weeks.

Section 6 Disqualification. If a family farm corporation or family farm syndicate that has qualified under all the requirements of a family farm corporation or family farm syndicate ceases to meet the defined criteria, it has one (1) year (if the ownership of the majority of the stock of such corporation, or the majority of the ownership interest of such a syndicate, continues to be held by persons related to one another within the fourth degree of kinship or their spouses, and their land holdings are not increased), to either requalify as a family farm corporation or family farm syndicate or dissolve and return to personal ownership;

Section 7. Enforcement. Any corporation or syndicate that owns agricultural land or engages in farming is required to report information necessary for the enforcement of this Ordinance to either the Township's Code Enforcement Officer or to the Township Supervisors, on an annual basis, on forms provided by the Township pursuant to this Ordinance. The Township shall monitor such reports and notify the Code Enforcement Officer of any possible violations, and any resident of the Township may also notify the Township of any possible violations. Any violation of this Ordinance shall be considered a criminal summary offense. The Board of Supervisors authorizes a fine of up to $1,000.00 per violation. Each day of non-compliance shall be considered a separate violation of this Ordinance. The Township may also file an action in equity in the Court of Common Pleas of ____________County, Pennsylvania, or any other Court of competent jurisdiction to abate any violation defined in Section 4 of this Ordinance. If the Township fails to bring an action to enforce this Ordinance, any resident of the Township has standing in front of the Court for enforcement.

Section 8 Severability. The provisions of this Ordinance are severable, and if any section, clause, sentence, part, or provision thereof shall be held illegal, invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision of the court shall not affect, impair, or invalidate any of the remaining sections, clauses, sentences, parts or provisions of this Ordinance. It is hereby declared to be the intent of the Supervisors that this Ordinance would have been adopted if such illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional section, clause, sentence, part, or provision had not been included herein.

Section 9. Effect. This Ordinance shall be effective immediately upon its enactment.