Letter: Agritourism enterprises must not be bigger than farms
The Monitor’s Feb. 21 editorial, “Agritourism law needs clarification” questioned whether to allow agritourism businesses larger than the farming operation.
I disagree with your conclusion to eliminate size restrictions.
By including the phrase “which is ancillary to the farm operation” in RSA 21:34-a, the Legislature intended that the agritourism businesses not detract from the farming operation. Ancillary, meaning secondary to or subordinate to, limits agritourism businesses to being no larger than the farming operation. If both are equal in size, growth requires that the farm grow first.
The Legislature also did not relieve agritourism businesses from compliance with local land use regulations.
Agritourism businesses larger than the farm risk shifting the owner’s emphasis away from farming. Without size restrictions, there is no incentive to maintain or grow the farm. The farm may even disappear, resulting in only commercial businesses on land zoned rural or residential, in addition to defeating the intent of agritourism. Agritourism could become a back door for starting commercial businesses where not allowed by zoning. Small farms proposing larger agritourism businesses have questionable motives.
Neighbors accept existing farms but introducing larger agritourism businesses with increased noise and traffic results in safety concerns, unacceptable loss of quality of life, and significant loss of property values for the neighbors.
Without size restrictions, local land use agencies will be forced to consider the impact of new agritourism businesses both as proposed and with future growth.
Agritourism businesses must comply with current regulations. Revisions require careful consideration of possible unintended anti-farm consequences.
(The writer lives in Newtown, Conn., and owns land in Henniker.)