Homesteaders and Farmers Join Forces to Push Back
by Kimberly Hartke
In a rural area near West Palm Beach, a neighbor’s complaint about a loud rooster seems to have triggered a cascade of political moves that now threaten livestock farmers and homesteaders. A publicly owned Ag Reserve, purchased by the county in 1999, is now slated for development. A coming Big Box Store and a slew of new restrictions on private property use may soon displace the entire small farm economy in The Acreage, a sustainable community in Loxahatchee, Florida.
When landowners appealed to the Board of County Commissioners, they found out more distressing news. The Commissioners were planning to lift zoning restrictions in the Ag Reserve to allow development. And, they informed landowners that the new land use restrictions were final and not open to debate. Here is an article about the issue on a blog in The New Times of Broward and Palm Beach County.
Kristina Carmichael, a concerned citizen had this to say, “The rooster issue was used to write new ordinances that “allow” folks in Agricultural/Residential zoned areas in our Ag Reserve to have livestock. At first this seemed great! We though we were going to shut down the nasty neighbor, and all would be well, especially considering this area has always been zoned for AG. Then, the Acreage Landowners Association got a hold of the ordinances. And they are TERRIBLE! Regulations up the wazoo, permits and fees and worst of all rules about where animals can be housed, in some cases, rendering 2/3 of a parcel of land completely unusable.”
Concerned farmers, homesteaders and consumers of farm products spoke against the proposed ordinances at a public hearing on July 26, 2012.
The Board of County Commissioners passed the unwelcome land use ordinances as written at that meeting. The new rules go into effect on August 23, 2012. See Palm Beach County AG Ordinance documents, and check out the last one on the list Livestock Keeping Summary of Amendments to see the particularly burdensome new rules.
What You Can Do
Please sign this petition to help The Acreage maintain its character as a community supporting small farm agricultural enterprise. If you know anyone that lives in Palm Beach, please send them this post with a request to get involved!
More details are in this Palm Beach County Examiner article.
Listen to Liberty Underground Live online radio show this Friday, 9:30am EST for an interview with Palm Beach activists about the issue.
If you are in the Palm Beach area, there is a hearing on August 23rd at 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach, 6th Floor at 9:30am. Concerned citizens who show up will get to speak their objections to this assault on private property and small farm livelihoods.
Kimberly Hartke is publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), a nutrition education non-profit. WAPF members patronize small farms and believe in supporting humane animal husbandry.