Township Solicitor Tim Prime presented a draft ordinance to council at its Aug. 18 meeting to outline what rules farm stand operators may have to follow upon the proposal’s adoption. Consultation with zoning officer Beth Portocalis led to further revision.
Reading from the draft, Prime said owners could only sell produce grown on their property or from someone associated directly with the goods. Farmers need a license from the state Department of Agriculture.
“I took out the writing provisions requiring operations of a farm stand to be daylight hours, dawn to dusk,” Prime said. “I clarified the parking and access. I did allow two small signs for the farm stand that the zoning officer asked me to include in the application and the location of the signs.
“Other than that,” he added, “there are no major changes and it (the ordinance draft) limits farm stands based on our other conversations.”
Councilman Brad Denn said dawn is too early for operations, as customers would be lined up at 5:45 a.m. near his home in the summer. He insisted operating hours mimic the township’s noise ordinance, which allows for residents to mow their lawns at 8 a.m.
Mayor Charles Watson clarified that laws are on the books by the state, county and township to delegate where cars can and cannot be parked. Some unnamed farm stands were believed to have violated the law, and he pondered aloud if the township could strengthen the regulation using the farm stand ordinance.
It could be done with the ordinance, but Councilwoman Lauren Kochan added that the nature of farm stands is for people to purchase items and leave within a short time, so the situation would be resolved by the time a police or zoning officer visits the property owner. Prime proposed having a zoning officer make random visits to ensure stands are operating safely.
Kochan was concerned about farm owners in another township bringing products to Medford for profit, but Watson said that would be difficult to legislate given the state’s Right to Farm Act. He also wants to promote and encourage agriculture among township’s residents.
Concerned over residents who might create stands on every property, Prime informed council some homeowner associations would have limits set in their bylaws, but a more viable restriction would be best on main, artery roads and not within subdivisions.
“Why don’t I incorporate what we talked about, and the artery roads or main roads, to locate where they should be,” the solicitor noted.
No action was taken on the ordinance. It is unknown when Prime would have it ready for a council vote and adoption. Council holds its next meeting Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. Details can be accessed by visiting MedfordTownship.com.