by Larry Austin
The Grand Island Town Board passed a right-to-farm law Monday after receiving strong support from the Island's farming community at a public hearing.
The law's intent is "to maintain and preserve the rural traditions and character of the town, to permit the continuation of agricultural practices, to protect the existence and operation of farms, and to promote new ways to resolve disputes concerning agricultural practices and farm operations."
Han Mobius, of the Erie County Farm Bureau, noted that in 1960 there were 360,000 farms in New York state. Today, there are 35,000, he said. With that in mind, the Farm Bureau's mission is "to try and save every farm that we can," he said, adding that he appreciates the town law that will address town problems. County and state laws "don't address your problems," Mobius said. "You want to keep your problems in your town, and you want to solve your problems in your town.
Similar laws in 21 Erie County towns have been passed, he said.
R.J. Wynne favored the law also, and praised Island farmer George DeGlopper.
"Without farmers, we don't eat. It's that simple," he said. "Everybody needs to eat. Everybody needs a farm, and we're privileged to have a couple on the Island. And I dare say not many people work harder on Grand Island than Mr. DeGlopper. We're happy to have him, and anybody who harasses him, they can come talk to me. Thanks, George."
DeGlopper said the law will maintain green space on the Island.
"I hear about people always saying they like to keep the rural atmosphere over here, and this would be one way of doing it without using tax dollars to buy up land just to keep the green space," DeGlopper said.
Jeff Smith of Fix Road, owner of White Oak Farm, said: "We're honored to know George and fellow farmers here. And it is like a brotherhood. It's an honor to be out in the fields and get our hands dirty. You see the fruits of your labor and it's really exhilarating. It's an honor to be a farmer here on Grand Island."
No one spoke in opposition to the law and it was adopted as local law No. 5 for 2011 by a 5-0 vote.
McMahon said the law will go into effect once it is received by the New York Secretary of State.
Prior to its regular meeting, the board met at 6:30 p.m. in a workshop meeting in the Town Hall conference room. The board held an executive session meeting behind closed doors to discuss applications for a part-time zoning officer, the status of a position at the Golden Age Center; a request to rent or purchase of property; an update of collective bargaining unit agreements; reappointments to advisory boards.