Update 3/31/14: Gov. McAuliffe Approves HB 1089
|Anthony Bavuso – Photo: SeafordOyster.com
York County oyster farmers Anthony Bavuso and Greg Garrett had their respective cases argued before the Virginia Supreme Court on October 28. In each case, York County Zoning Administrator J. Mark Carter and other county officials were appealing rulings from the York County Poquoson Circuit Court that neither Bavuso nor Garrett needed a special use permit to operate a commercial oyster farm on land that included their residences. York County claimed there could only be one principal use and, with the residence serving as the principal use, both Bavuso and Garrett each needed a special use permit for their oyster businesses.
In Bavuso’s case, after a ruling by the York County Board of Zoning Appeals, Bavuso applied in December 2011 for a special use permit which was recommended for approval by the York County Planning Commission. The York County Board of Supervisors, who have the final say on special use permit applications, voted to deny the farmer the permit; this denial led Bavuso to seek resolution in court.
|Photo courtesy of SeafordOyster.com|
York County Circuit Court Judge Designate Alfred Swersky held that the county zoning code permitted Bavuso to engage in aquaculture on his land as a matter of right; that nowhere in the [York County zoning] code is there an express statutory provision stating that “permitted” uses are “principal” uses. Judge Swersky also noted that the county has consistently allowed “land agriculture” on land where a residence is located without ever requiring a special use permit for crop or livestock farming. Bavuso’s property is zoned Resource Conservation which allows crop and livestock farming as well as aquaculture.
Scott Reichle, Bavuso’s attorney, argued before the Supreme Court judges that any number of permitted uses are allowed as long as they do not reach the intensity of the principal use.
Bavuso holds licenses issued by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) for “bottom shellfish aquaculture” on state-owned bottomland beneath tidal waters adjacent to his waterfront residence. He uses his land for storing oyster cages and other equipment related to his business, growing seed oysters, docking his workboat at his pier, and offloading harvested oysters for transport to market.
The Bavuso and Garrett cases are important in the fight against local government overreach in hindering farmers’ ability to make a living. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund has paid some of Bavuso’s legal fees for his representation before the Virginia Supreme Court.
YOUR FUND AT WORK
The Fund is not an insurance company and cannot guarantee representation on all legal matters; possible representation is just one of the benefits of membership.
Anyone wanting to make a contribution towards legal expenses can make a donation online or send a check to:
8116 Arlington Blvd, # 263
Falls Church, VA 22042
Those wanting to make a tax-deductible donation to help Anthony Bavuso pay his legal expenses can make a contribution to the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation public interest litigation (PIL) account, earmarked “PIL – Bavuso”. For more details, visit farmtoconsumer.org/PIL
Thanks for your support!
In this video, Seaford Oyster Company’s Anthony Bavuso shows the process of planting, harvesting and eating oysters.
Also, see videos of Greg Garrett’s Forbidden Oysters.
Update 3/31/14:Effective January 1, 2015 – Agriculture includes Aquaculture
Update 3/7/14: HB1089 passed Senate; sent for Gov. to Sign
HB 1089 passed House on 2/5/14 (block vote: 95-Yes, 0-No) and Senate Local Government Committee on 2/6/14 (vote: 12-Yes, 0-No); passed Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee on 2/27/14 (vote: 12-Yes, 3-No) and full Senate 3/4/14 (vote: 33-Yess, 5-No); and as amended, adopted by the House 3/6/14
|Here’s how you can help
Email Senators: Sign Petition Now
HB 1089 Passes Senate Ag Committee
Thursday – February 27, 2014
Action Alert 2/25/14: bit.ly/FTCAA-VA022514
The Virginia Zoning Bill (HB 1089) aims to clarify the meaning of the term “agricultural products” and protect small farmers from local government overregulation.
Sign the EMAIL petition (revised 2/24/14):
I urge you to vote YES on HB 1089 to help protect small farmers from burdensome regulations by clarifying the meaning of “agricultural products” to be consistent with the definition already in VA statutes 3.2-6400.
A definition of “agricultural products” is already codified in Virginia statutes under section 3.2-6400. Virginia law currently restricts localities from requiring a ‘special use’ permit for certain agricultural activities but section 15.2-2288 of the Virginia Code is not clear. Two Virginia oyster farmers, Anthony Bavuso and Greg Garrett, were pursued by York County zoning officials; though both won their cases, the county appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court, claiming that their residences served as the principal use of the land and therefore required a special use permit from the county to operate an oyster farm (i.e., engaging in aquaculture).
Passage of HB 1089 will clarify that “agricultural products” means any livestock, aquaculture, poultry, horticultural, floricultural, viticulture, silvicultural, or other farm crops.
Concise definitions of terms like “agricultural products” will help farmers avoid unnecessary and costly court battles in the future.
Email & Call Virginia Senate Members
Use the Online Petition then follow up with phone calls. Be sure to post comments for HB1089 at www.RichmondSunlight.com; some legislators do read them. While you’re there, cast your own vote for HB 1089!
Senate Email List to copy and paste into the “To” field if you want to send follow-up emails to the full Virginia State Senate:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Sen. Kenneth C. Alexander (D) – District 5
Sen. George L. Barker (D) – District 39
Sen. Richard H. Black (R) – District 13
Sen. Charles W. Carrico, Sr. (R) – District 40
Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D) – District 29
Sen. John A. Cosgrove (R) – District 14
Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D) – District 25
Sen. Adam P. Ebbin (D) – District 30
Sen. John S. Edwards (D) – District 21
Sen. Barbara A. Favola (D) – District 31
Sen. Thomas A. Garrett, Jr. (R) – District 22
Sen. Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. (R) – District 24
Sen. Janet D. Howell (D) – District 32
Sen. Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr. (D) – District 6
Sen. Mamie E. Locke (D) – District 2
Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D) – District 18
Sen. David W. Marsden (D) – District 37
Sen. Henry L. Marsh, III (D) – District 16
Sen. Stephen H. Martin (R) – District 11
Sen. Ryan T. McDougle (R) – District 4
Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D) – District 9
Sen. Jeffrey L. McWaters (R) – District 8
Sen. John C. Miller (D) – District 1
Sen. Stephen D. Newman (R) – District 23
Sen. Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R) – District 3
Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R) – District 26
Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D) – District 34
Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D) – District 38
Sen. Linda T. Puller (D) – District 36
Sen. Bryce E. Reeves (R) – District 17
Sen. Frank M. Ruff, Jr. (R) – District 15
Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D) – District 35
Sen. Ralph K. Smith (R) – District 19
Sen. William M. Stanley, Jr. (R) – District 20
Sen. Walter A. Stosch (R) – District 12
Sen. Richard H. Stuart (R) – District 28
Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R) – District 27
Sen. Frank W. Wagner (R) – District 7
Sen. John C. Watkins (R) – District 10
Sen. Jennifer T. Wexton (D) – District 33
HB 1089 passed House on 2/5/14 (block vote: 95-Yes, 0-No) and Senate Local Government Committee on 2/6/14 (vote: 12-Yes, 0-No); passed Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee on 2/27/14 (vote: 12-Yes, 3-No) — now headed to Senate floor
HB 1089 passed House on 2/5/14 (block vote: 95-Yes, 0-No) and Senate Local Government Committee on 2/6/14 (vote: 12-Yes, 0-No) — Attend hearing 2/27/14 in Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee
Action Alert: bit.ly/FTCAA-VA022514
Attend Senate Committee Hearing
Thursday – February 27, 2014
approx. 12:30 p.m. or later [half hour after Senate adjourns] General Assembly Building
Senate Room B
1000 Bank Street
Richmond, VA 23218 [directions]
House vote on HB 1089 on 2/5/14 (block vote: 95-Yes, 0-No) then referred to Senate Local Government Committee 2/6/14 (vote: 12-Yes, 0-No); referred 2/12/14 to Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee – watch for next step
UPDATE 1/30/14: House Committee Hearing Jan. 31 at 8 a.m.
HB 1089 passed by Subcommittee #2 on 1/30/2014
Action Alert (1/29/14): bit.ly/FTCAA-VA012914
Attend House Sub-Committee Hearing Thursday morning – January 30, 2014
hearing begins at 7:00 a.m.
General Assembly Building
West Conference Room, 7th Floor
1000 Bank Street
Richmond, VA 23218 [directions]