Article I - General Provisions
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of Henderson County. Amended 12-18-1991; 11-18-
§ 45-1. Purpose; Statutory Authority; Title.
The purpose of this Chapter is to encourage the voluntary preservation and protection of
farmland from nonfarm development, recognizing the importance of agriculture to the
economic and cultural life of the County.
promoting the health, safety, morals and general welfare of Henderson County, the
Board of Commissioners of Henderson County, North Carolina, does enact the following
sections, which shall be known as the "Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program
Ordinance of Henderson County, North Carolina."
§ 45-2. Definitions.
The following terms are defined for purposes of this Chapter:
Board - The Henderson County Agricultural Advisory Board.
Board of Commissioners - The Henderson County Board of Commissioners.
Chairman - The Chairman of the Agricultural Advisory Board.
District - A voluntary agricultural district.
Article II- Agricultural Advisory Board
§ 45-3. Establishment.
A County Agricultural Advisory Board, to consist of 5 members appointed by the Board of Commissioners,
is hereby established.
§ 45-4. Residency Requirements; Qualifications; Terms; Vacancies; Removal.
Each Board member shall be a resident of Henderson County.
of the 5 members should be actively engaged in farming, and they may be
selected for appointment by the Board of Commissioners from a list of possible
candidates submitted to the Board of Commissioners by the Henderson County Soil and
Water Conservation District, the Cooperative Extension Advisory Council and the
Agricultural Stabilization Conservation Service Committee. Appointments should be
made with an effort to have the broadest geographical representation possible.
All members are to serve for terms of 4 years, except that the initial Board is to consist
of 1 appointee for a term of 2 years; 2 appointees for terms of 3 years and 2 appointees
for terms of 4 years. Thereafter, all appointments are to be for terms of 4 years, with
Any vacancy on the Agricultural Advisory Board is to be filled by the Board of
Commissioners for the remainder of the unexpired term.
Any member of the Agricultural Advisory Board may be removed with or without cause
by the Board of Commissioners.
§ 45-5. Officers; Bylaws; Fiscal Year; Meetings; Records; Support Services.
The Board is to elect a Chairman and Vice Chairman each year at its first meeting of the
fiscal year. The Chairman shall preside over all regular or special meetings of the Board.
The Board shall adopt its own bylaws, and such bylaws or amendments thereto must be
approved by the Henderson County Board of Commissioners.
The Board will use the County fiscal year as its meeting year. Meetings of the Board
shall be publicized and conducted in accordance with provisions of the North Carolina
Open Meetings Law. Such meetings shall be held at the call of the Chairman and at
such other times as the Board in its rules of procedure may specify.
The Board shall keep minutes of the proceedings showing the vote of each member upon
each question or, if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact. The Board shall keep
records of its examinations and other official actions, all of which shall be immediately
filed in the office of the Board and shall be a public record.
The Henderson County Agricultural Advisory Board shall contract with the Soil and
Water Conservation District office to serve the Board for recordkeeping, correspondence
and application procedures under this Chapter and whatever other services the Board
needs to complete its duties.
§ 45-6. Powers and Duties.
The Agricultural Advisory Board shall:
Review and approve applications for qualified farmland and voluntary
agricultural districts and make recommendations concerning the establishment
and modification of agricultural districts.
Hold public hearings pursuant to Article VI of this Chapter.
Advise the Board of Commissioners on projects, programs or issues affecting
the agricultural economy or activities within the County that will affect
Perform other related tasks or duties assigned by the Board of Commissioners.
Each district shall be assigned to a member of the Board who shall monitor and represent
that district in all business conducted by the Board. Individual members will represent
those districts closest to them geographically. No member will represent more than 30%
of the total number of districts in the County or 30% of the total land area.
Article III Reserved for Future Codification
§ 45-7 through 45-11 (Reserved)
Article IV - Certification for Qualifying Farmland
§ 45-12. Requirements.
To secure County certification as qualifying farmland, a farm must:
Be participating in the farm present-use-value taxation program established by N.C.G.S.
Be certified by the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States
Department of Agriculture as being a farm on which at least 2/3 of the land is composed
of soils that have been actively used in agricultural, horticultural or forestry operations as
farms that meet all the following:
Are best suited for providing food, seed, fiber, forage, timber and oil seed crops.
Have good soil qualities.
Are favorable for all major crops common to the County where the land is
Have a favorable growing season.
Receive the available moisture needed to produce high yields for an average of
out of 10 years.
Be managed, if highly erodible land exists on the farm, in accordance with Natural
Resources Conservation Service defined erosion-control practices that are addressed to
said highly erodible land.
County and the owner of such land that prohibits nonfarm use or development of such
land for a period of at least 10 years, except for the creation of not more than 3 lots
that meet applicable County zoning and subdivision regulations.
§ 45-13. Application.
A landowner may apply to the Chairman for such certification at the same time he applies for approval as
an agricultural district.
Article V - Revocation of Preservation Agreement
§ 45-14. Notice.
By written notice to the Board, a landowner of qualifying farmland may revoke the preservation agreement
formulated pursuant to Article III of this Chapter, or the Board may revoke the same preservation
agreement based on noncompliance by the landowner. Such revocation shall result in loss of eligibility to
participate in a voluntary agricultural district.
Article VI - Public Hearings
§ 45-15. Purpose.
Pursuant to N.C.G.S. 106-740, which provides that no state or local public agency or governmental unit
may formally initiate any action to condemn any interest in qualifying farmland within a voluntary
agricultural district until such agency or unit has requested the local Agricultural Advisory Board to hold a
public hearing on the proposed condemnation, this article provides for such hearings. This Chapter shall not
be interpreted or construed to limit the County's authority to acquire land within or outside a voluntary
agricultural district for a public purpose, whether by purchase or condemnation.
§ 45-16. Procedure.
Upon receiving a request for condemnation, the Agricultural Advisory Board shall,
within 2 days, publish a notice in a newspaper having general circulation in Henderson
County describing the proposed condemnation. The notice shall state the time, date and
location of the public hearing on the proposed condemnation. Such hearing shall be held
within 14 days of receipt of the request.
The Board will meet to review:
If the need for the condemnation has been satisfactorily established by the
agency or unit of government involved, including a review of any fiscal impact
analysis conducted by the agency involved; and
Alternatives to the proposed condemnation that are less disruptive and of less
impact to the agricultural activities and farm land base of the voluntary
agricultural district within which the condemnation action is to take place.
The Board will consult with the County Cooperative Extension Service, United States
Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, and may consult
with any other individuals, agencies or organizations, public or private, necessary to the
Board's review of the proposed condemnation.
Within 10 days after the public hearings, the Board will make a report containing its
findings and recommendations regarding the proposed condemnation. The report will be
made available to the public for comment prior to its being conveyed to the decision
making body of the agency proposing condemnation.
any formal initiation of condemnation by local agencies while the proposed
condemnation is properly before the Advisory Board within these time limitations.
Article VII - Special Requirements
§ 45-17. Purpose.
The purpose of this article is to help meet the needs of agriculture as an industry and to prevent conflicts
between voluntary agricultural district participants and nonfarm landowners in proximity to districts.
§ 45-18. Districts Not Permitted In County Growth Areas.
Voluntary agricultural districts will not be permitted in designated County growth areas, as delineated in
the most recently adopted County Land Use Plan, such plan being adopted after the effective date of this
§ 45-19. Consultation with Other Agencies.
The Board shall consult as much as possible with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, the North
Carolina Division of Soil and Water Conservation and any other entity the Board deems necessary to the
proper conduct of its business.
§ 45-20. Filing with Commissioner Of Agriculture; Reports.
A copy of this Chapter shall be recorded with the North Carolina Commissioner of
Agriculture's office after adoption. At least once a year the County shall submit a written
report to the Commissioner of Agriculture's office indicating the status, progress and
activities of the County's farmland preservation program, including voluntary agricultural
districting information regarding:
Number of landowners enrolled.
Number of acres applied.
Number of acres certified.
Number of acres denied.
Date each agricultural district was certified.
Copies of the reports cited in Subsection A will be sent to:
North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture.
North Carolina Department of Transportation.
North Carolina Department of Commerce.
Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce.
Any other entities the Board deems appropriate.
§ 45-21. Records; Notice of Proximity to District.
At such time as Henderson County has a computerized land records system, it shall be required that such
records include some form of notice reasonably calculated to alert a person researching the title of a
particular tract that such tract is located within 1/2 mile of a poultry, swine or dairy qualifying farm or
within 600 feet of any other qualifying farm or within 1/2 mile of a voluntary agricultural district.
Article VIII Agricultural Districts
Part One - Voluntary Agricultural Districts
The purpose of voluntary agricultural districts shall be to encourage the economic and financial well-
being of farming areas, to increase protection from nuisance suits, undesirable nonfarm development
and other negative impacts on participating farms and to increase the identity and pride in the
agricultural community and its way of life.
An agricultural district shall initially consist of one or more qualifying farms which
collectively consist (or, in the case of one farm only, individually consists) of at least
50 acres of qualifying farmland lying (if more than one farm) within one mile of
each other. An agricultural district may be enlarged by adding qualifying farms
subsequent to initial formation so long as such qualifying farms are within one mile
of any farm in such district.
An agreement to sustain, encourage and promote agriculture must be executed by
each applicant in the district and submitted to the Agricultural Advisory Board for
Landowners may apply to participate in existing districts and are encouraged to do
To secure County certification as an agricultural district, a landowner, for such
designation, will apply to the Chairman of the Agricultural Advisory Board.
Application forms may be obtained from the Chairman at the Soil and Water
Conservation District office or at the office of the Henderson County Planning
Upon receipt of an application, the Chairman will forward copies immediately to the
Henderson County Assessor's office and the Henderson County Soil and Water
Conservation District office for evaluation pursuant to Article IV. Said offices shall
evaluate, complete and return their copies to the Chairman within 30 days of receipt.
Within 30 days of receipt of respective reports from the County Assessor and the
Soil and Water Conservation District office, the Board will meet and render a
decision regarding the application. The Chairman will notify the applicant by mail of
the Board's decision.
If the application is denied by the Agricultural Advisory Board, the petitioner has 30
days to appeal the decision to the Henderson County Board of Commissioners. Such
appeal shall be presented in writing. The decision of the Board of Commissioners is
§ 45-27. Maps; Public Notice.
Voluntary agricultural districts will be marked on official maps maintained by the
Land Records Office of the Henderson County Tax Assessor, displayed for public
view in the following County locations:
Register of Deeds.
Soil and Water Conservation.
Henderson County Tax Assessors offices.
Official Henderson County electronic land records.
Any other office deemed necessary or advisable by the Board of
The following notice, of a size and form suitable for posting, shall be posted in the
office of the Register of Deeds, and any other office or agency the Advisory Board
Henderson County has established agricultural districts to protect and preserve
agricultural lands and activities. These districts have been developed and
mapped by the county to inform all purchasers of real property that certain
agricultural and forestry activities, including but not limited to pesticide
spraying , manure spreading, machinery and truck operation, livestock
operations, sawing, and other common farming activities may occur in these
districts any time during the day or night. Maps and information on the location
and establishment of these districts can be obtained from the North Carolina
Cooperative Extension Service office, the office of the Register of Deeds, the
County Planning office, the Land Records Section of the Tax Assessors Office,
or the Natural Resources Conservation Service office.
§ 45-28.Land Development; Notice to Purchasers.
Developers of major subdivisions (as that term is used in the Henderson County
Land Development Code) or planned unit developments shall designate on
preliminary development plans the existence of voluntary agricultural districts within
1/2 mile of the proposed development.
In addition, developers shall comply with all applicable provisions of the Henderson
County Land Development Code, including but limited to those regarding Farmland
As used in this Article, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise the terms
voluntary agricultural district and enhanced agricultural district shall have the
same meaning as the term Farmland Preservation District as used in the Henderson
County Land Development Code.
§ 45-29.Public information program.
The County may take such action as it deems appropriate through the Agricultural Advisory Board
or other body or individual to encourage the formation of voluntary agricultural districts and to
further their purposes and objectives, including a public information program to reasonably inform
landowners of the farmland preservation program. Official Henderson County electronic land
records shall indicate the boundary of the area within 1/2 mile of a voluntary agriculture district,
and shall further indicate any setbacks from such district required by the Land Development Code.
45-30. Qualifying Farmland
As used in this Article, qualifying farmland must:
Be managed, if highly erodible land exists on the farm, in accordance with the
Natural Resources Conservation Service defined erosion-control practices that are
addressed to said highly-erodible land; and
Be located in the unincorporated area of Henderson County; and
Be participating in the farm present-use-value taxation program established
county to meet all the qualifications of this program set forth in N. C.G.S.
Be engaged in agriculture as that term is defined in N.C.G.S.
Provide to its owner gross revenue from its use in agriculture of
at least $2,000. per acre in the year prior to application (or, as an
alternative, an average of at least $2,000. per acre for the 5 years
prior to application).
§ 45-31. Through 45-39. (Reserved)
Article VIII Agricultural Districts
Part Two - Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts
The purposed of Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts is to provide, pursuant to N.C.G.S.
of this Article, with additional benefits to the County and to its farmland beyond that available in a
voluntary agricultural district established under Part 2 of this Article, when the owner of the
farmland agrees to the condition imposed hereunder.
Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts must meet all the requirements of Part1 of
Landowners who desire inclusion of their land in an Enhanced Voluntary
Agricultural District must not only meet all the requirements of Part 1 of this
Article, but must also enter into an irrevocable agricultural easement and
with Henderson County through its Agricultural Advisory Board, as specified below.
Such easement shall contain a provision that at its expiration the easement
automatically renews for subsequent 3 year periods unless either party gives the
other written notice prior to such expiration to Henderson County and its
Agricultural Advisory Board.
The form of the agreement required under A., above, shall be approved by the
Henderson County Agricultural Advisory Board, and shall meet the requirements of
§ 45-42. Membership on Agricultural Advisory Board
Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts established within the County shall be entitled to a
§ 45-43. Benefits
The benefits set forth in this Part shall be available to the farmland that is the subject
of the conservation agreement for the duration of the easement and conservation
agreement and for so long as the benefits of such agreement have not been
withdrawn under the provisions of this Part due to non-compliance with the terms of
such easement and conservation agreement.
remains in effect may receive up to 25 percent of its gross sales from the sale of
nonfarm products and still qualify as a bona fide farm that is exempt from zoning
the production of any nonfarm product that the Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services recognizes as a "Goodness Grows in North Carolina"
product that is produced on a farm that is subject to a conservation agreement under
this subsection shall have the burden of establishing that the property's sale of
nonfarm products did not exceed 25 percent of its gross sales. A county may
adopt an ordinance pursuant to this section that sets forth the standards necessary for
proof of compliance. Nothing in this section shall affect the county's authority to
cost-share funds for the benefit of that farmland under the Agriculture Cost Share
to benefit that farmland.
All assessments for utilities provided by Henderson County are held in abeyance,
without interest, for farmland subject to a conservation agreement under N.C.G.S.
are connected to the utility for which the assessment was made. When the period of
abeyance ends, such assessment is payable in accordance with the terms of the
limitations are suspended during the time that any assessment is held in abeyance
under this section without interest.
§ 45-44. Notice
Enhanced voluntary agricultural districts shall be marked on County maps listed in §45-27.
§ 45-45. Education
The Henderson County Agricultural Advisory Board shall encourage the formation of the Districts
and Enhanced Districts and to further their purposes and objectives, including the implementation
of a public information program to reasonably inform landowners of the agricultural district
§ 45-46. Through 45-49. (Reserved)
Article VIII Agricultural District
Part Three Procedures
The Henderson County Agricultural Advisory Board shall adopt procedures, based upon the
model procedures promulgated by North Carolina State University College of Agriculture & Life
Sciences, for both voluntary and enhanced voluntary agriculture districts for the following:
Approval of Agriculture Easement and Conservation Agreement terms. Such
agreement to sustain, encourage, and promote agriculture must be executed by the
landowner and recorded with the Advisory Board and with the Henderson County
Register of Deeds. Permitted uses for the land subject to such Easement and
Conservation Agreement include agriculture, horticulture, forestry, and outdoor
recreation. The Easement and Conservation Agreement for the Enhanced Voluntary
Agricultural District shall be binding upon all successors in interest to the landowner
according to its terms, except for successors in interest resulting from the exercise of
rights under a security interest or lien that preceded the Easement and Conservation
Enforcement, including methods for determining compliance and for revocation by
the County for non-compliance.
§ 45-51. Condemnation of Qualifying Farmland
action to condemn any interest in qualifying farmland within a District until it has
requested the Henderson County Advisory Board to hold a public hearing on the
Upon receiving a request, the Henderson County Advisory Board shall
publish notice describing the proposed action in the newspaper of record
within Henderson County within 5 business days of the request, and
will in the same notice notify the public of a public hearing on the proposed
condemnation, to be held within 10 days of receipt of the request.
The Advisory Board shall meet to review:
Whether the need for the project has been satisfactorily established
by the agency or unit of government involved, including a review
of any fiscal impact analysis conducted by the agency involved;
Whether there are alternatives to the proposed action that have less
impact and are less disruptive to the agricultural activities of the
District within which the proposed action is to take place.
The Advisory Board shall consult with the County Agricultural Extension
Agent, the Natural Resources Conservation Service District
Conservationist, and any other individuals, agencies, or organizations
deemed by the Advisory Board to be necessary for its review of the
Within 5 days after the hearing, the Advisory Board shall make a
report containing its findings and recommendations regarding the proposed
action. The report shall be made available to the public prior to its being
conveyed to the decision-making body of the agency proposing the
There will be a period of 10 days allowed for public comment on the
report of the Advisory Board.
After the 10 day period for public comment has expired, the Advisory
Board shall submit a final report containing all of its findings and
recommendations regarding the proposed action to the decision making
body of the agency proposing the acquisition.
The total time period, from the day that a request for a hearing has been
received to the day that a final report is issued to the decision making body
of the agency proposing the acquisition, shall not exceed 30 days. If
the agency agrees to an extension, the agency and the Advisory Board shall
mutually agree upon a schedule to be set forth in writing and made available
to the public.
permit any formal initiation of condemnation by local agencies while the
proposed condemnation is properly before the Advisory Board.
§ 45-52.Through 45-75. (Reserved)