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Just Dandy: Residents want rural county to ban farming

By   /   September 15, 2014  /   News  /   No Comments

Photo courtesy of York County

BATTLEGROUND: Historic York County is facing a land war of a different kind as some residents seek to pre-empt Virginia’s right-to-farm law.

By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau

YORK, Va. — Attempting to pre-empt Virginia’s freedom-to-farm law, residents in a York County community want local officials to ban agricultural activity in their neighborhood.

More than 130 Dandy residents have signed a petition asking the Board of Supervisors to ban commercial farming — a move to thwart state legislation restricting local government’s power to regulate agriculture and aquaculture.

With the state law taking effect Jan. 1, residents in the small suburb of Dandy on Tuesday are taking their case to the county board.

The Dandy initiative is modeled after new zoning rules in Seaford’s York Point, which prescribe “low density single-family residential development” where properties are “arranged and situated in a relatively compact subdivision setting.”

Virginia’s farm-freedom law – named after Fauquier County farmer Martha Boneta – restricts local governments’ ability to curb agricultural uses.

But York County Attorney James Barnett maintains that local officials can pre-empt the law, asserting that the county of 66,000 people could cite lot sizes and other considerations to quash farming activities.

York’s Peninsula land war comes amid a court challenge by Anthony Bavuso, a local oysterman. Bavuso asserts that York County cannot require him to obtain a special use permit for his oyster-farming operation at York Point.

Boneta told Watchdog.org on Monday that she was “deeply saddened” by the events in York. “Property rights and freedom are inseparable, and I am heartbroken that family farmers may no longer be able to engage in farming on their land,” she said.

“I think we have too many people trying to tell other people what to do,” said Joel Salatin, a nationally renowned ag-rights advocate and farmer in Swoope, Va.

“One of my restaurants I supplied with eggs when I was a teenager had a sign hanging up behind the counter that said: ‘A good monkey is a monkey that doesn’t monkey with another monkey’s monkey,'” he said.

Kenric Ward is a national reporter for Watchdog.org and chief of the Virginia Bureau. Contact him at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward










Kenric Ward is the San Antonio-based reporter for Watchdog.org. A California native and veteran journalist who has worked on three Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, he received a BA from UCLA (Political Science/Phi Beta Kappa) and holds an MBA. He reported and edited at the San Jose Mercury News and the Las Vegas Sun before joining Watchdog.org in 2012 and has won over 30 journalism awards throughout his career. His work has been published in the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News, Odessa American, The Monitor, Corsicana Daily Sun, Laredo Morning Times, Palestine Herald-Press, Waxahachie Daily Light, The Orange Leader, the Katy News, Fox News, Townhall, and others. Kenric is a member of the Investigative Reporters & Editors network and can be reached at kward@watchdog.org.