Ag. Not Permitted In Residential Districts

Asked June 15, 2020, 4:43 PM EDT

Does the RTF Act preempt residential districts that do not permit agriculture by right? And does it matter if such a district allows a few horses or chickens on a small parcel as a special use.

Wayne County Michigan

1 Response

Thank you for your inquiry. Before we begin, please note that the Right to Farm Act (RTFA) is a safety net for farmers and farm operations facing nuisance lawsuits from neighbors. It offers recommended farm practices that must be followed in order to best defend oneself in court. Some local regulation of farming activities are preempted by the Act. RTFA preemptions apply if you can answer "yes" to these 3 questions:
Is the land use in question a farm or farm operation?
Is it producing a farm product?
Is it engaged in commercial production?
If you answer "no" to one or more of these questions, then the RTFA does NOT apply, and in this case, local regulation of the keeping of horses or poultry applies. Like you stated above, a local government can regulate livestock under special use permits- It all depends on what is stated in your local zoning ordinance for your particular zoning classification. Sometimes there is a county ordinance that can apply too. For instance, we have seen a county level "animal control ordinance" that allows for up to 5 poultry on each urban residential property.
If you are interested in more information about the RTFA, please visit our webpage:https://www.canr.msu.edu/planning/zoning_ordinance_resources/agricultural-right-to-farm