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This entry was published on 2020-10-16
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SECTION 305
Agricultural districts; effects
Agriculture & Markets (AGM) CHAPTER 69, ARTICLE 25-AA
§ 305. Agricultural districts; effects. 1. Agricultural assessments.
a. Any owner of land used in agricultural production within an
agricultural district shall be eligible for an agricultural assessment
pursuant to this section. If an applicant rents land from another for
use in conjunction with the applicant's land for the production for sale
of crops, livestock or livestock products, the gross sales value of such
products produced on such rented land shall be added to the gross sales
value of such products produced on the land of the applicant for
purposes of determining eligibility for an agricultural assessment on
the land of the applicant. Such assessment shall be granted only upon an
annual application by the owner of such land on a form prescribed by the
commissioner of taxation and finance; provided, however, that after the
initial grant of agricultural assessment the annual application shall be
on a form prescribed by the commissioner of taxation and finance and
shall consist of only a certification by the landowner that the
landowner continues to meet the eligibility requirements for receiving
an agricultural assessment and seeks an agricultural assessment for the
same acreage that initially received an agricultural assessment. The
landowner shall maintain records documenting such eligibility which
shall be provided to the assessor upon request. The landowner must apply
for agricultural assessment for any change in acreage, whether land is
added or removed, after the initial grant of agricultural assessment.
Any new owner of the land who wishes to receive an agricultural
assessment shall make an initial application for such assessment. Such
applications shall be on a form prescribed by the commissioner of
taxation and finance. The applicant shall furnish to the assessor such
information as the commissioner of taxation and finance shall require,
including classification information prepared for the applicant's land
or water bodies used in agricultural production by the soil and water
conservation district office within the county, and information
demonstrating the eligibility for agricultural assessment of any land
used in conjunction with rented land as specified in paragraph b of
subdivision four of section three hundred one of this article. Such
application shall be filed with the assessor of the assessing unit on or
before the appropriate taxable status date; provided, however, that (i)
in the year of a revaluation or update of assessments, as those terms
are defined in section one hundred two of the real property tax law, the
application may be filed with the assessor no later than the thirtieth
day prior to the day by which the tentative assessment roll is required
to be filed by law; or (ii) an application for such an assessment may be
filed with the assessor of the assessing unit after the appropriate
taxable status date but not later than the last date on which a petition
with respect to complaints of assessment may be filed, where failure to
file a timely application resulted from: (a) a death of the applicant's
spouse, child, parent, brother or sister, (b) an illness of the
applicant or of the applicant's spouse, child, parent, brother or
sister, which actually prevents the applicant from filing on a timely
basis, as certified by a licensed physician, or (c) the occurrence of a
natural disaster, including, but not limited to, a flood, or the
destruction of such applicant's residence, barn or other farm building
by wind, fire or flood. If the assessor is satisfied that the applicant
is entitled to an agricultural assessment, the assessor shall approve
the application and the land shall be assessed pursuant to this section.
Not less than ten days prior to the date for hearing complaints in
relation to assessments, the assessor shall mail to each applicant, who
has included with the application at least one self-addressed, pre-paid
envelope, a notice of the approval or denial of the application. Such
notice shall be on a form prescribed by the commissioner of taxation and
finance which shall indicate the manner in which the total assessed
value is apportioned among the various portions of the property subject
to agricultural assessment and those other portions of the property not
eligible for agricultural assessment as determined for the tentative
assessment roll and the latest final assessment roll. Failure to mail
any such notice or failure of the owner to receive the same shall not
prevent the levy, collection and enforcement of the payment of the taxes
on such real property.

b. That portion of the value of land utilized for agricultural
production within an agricultural district which represents an excess
above the agricultural assessment as determined in accordance with this
subdivision shall not be subject to real property taxation. Such excess
amount if any shall be entered on the assessment roll in the manner
prescribed by the commissioner of taxation and finance.

c. (i) The assessor shall utilize the agricultural assessment values
per acre certified pursuant to section three hundred four-a of this
article in determining the amount of the assessment of lands eligible
for agricultural assessments by multiplying those values by the number
of acres of land utilized for agricultural production and adjusting such
result by application of the latest state equalization rate or a special
equalization rate as may be established and certified by the
commissioner of taxation and finance for the purpose of computing the
agricultural assessment pursuant to this paragraph. This resulting
amount shall be the agricultural assessment for such lands.

(ii) Where the latest state equalization rate exceeds one hundred, or
where a special equalization rate which would otherwise be established
for the purposes of this section would exceed one hundred, a special
equalization rate of one hundred shall be established and certified by
the commissioner for the purpose of this section.

(iii) Where a special equalization rate has been established and
certified by the commissioner for the purposes of this paragraph, the
assessor is directed and authorized to recompute the agricultural
assessment on the assessment roll by applying such special equalization
rate instead of the latest state equalization rate, and to make the
appropriate corrections on the assessment roll, subject to the
provisions of title two of article twelve of the real property tax law.

d. (i) If land within an agricultural district which received an
agricultural assessment is converted parcels, as described on the
assessment roll which include land so converted shall be subject to
payments equalling five times the taxes saved in the last year in which
the land benefited from an agricultural assessment, plus interest of six
percent per year compounded annually for each year in which an
agricultural assessment was granted, not exceeding five years. The
amount of taxes saved for the last year in which the land benefited from
an agricultural assessment shall be determined by applying the
applicable tax rates to the excess amount of assessed valuation of such
land over its agricultural assessment as set forth on the last
assessment roll which indicates such an excess. If only a portion of a
parcel as described on the assessment roll is converted, the assessor
shall apportion the assessment and agricultural assessment attributable
to the converted portion, as determined for the last assessment roll for
which the assessment of such portion exceeded its agricultural
assessment. The difference between the apportioned assessment and the
apportioned agricultural assessment shall be the amount upon which
payments shall be determined. Payments shall be added by or on behalf of
each taxing jurisdiction to the taxes levied on the assessment roll
prepared on the basis of the first taxable status date on which the
assessor considers the land to have been converted; provided, however,
that no payments shall be imposed if the last assessment roll upon which
the property benefited from an agricultural assessment, was more than
five years prior to the year for which the assessment roll upon which
payments would otherwise be levied is prepared.

(ii) Whenever a conversion occurs, the owner shall notify the assessor
within ninety days of the date such conversion is commenced. If the
landowner fails to make such notification within the ninety day period,
the assessing unit, by majority vote of the governing body, may impose a
penalty on behalf of the assessing unit of up to two times the total
payments owed, but not to exceed a maximum total penalty of one thousand
dollars in addition to any payments owed.

(iii) (a) An assessor who determines that there is liability for
payments and any penalties assessed pursuant to subparagraph (ii) of
this paragraph shall notify the landowner by mail of such liability at
least ten days prior to the date for hearing complaints in relation to
assessments. Such notice shall indicate the property to which payments
apply and describe how the payments shall be determined. Failure to
provide such notice shall not affect the levy, collection or enforcement
or payment of payments.

(b) Liability for payments shall be subject to administrative and
judicial review as provided by law for review of assessments.

(iv) If such land or any portion thereof is converted to a use other
than for agricultural production by virtue of oil, gas or wind
exploration, development, or extraction activity or by virtue of a
taking by eminent domain or other involuntary proceeding other than a
tax sale, the land or portion so converted shall not be subject to
payments. If the land so converted constitutes only a portion of a
parcel described on the assessment roll, the assessor shall apportion
the assessment, and adjust the agricultural assessment attributable to
the portion of the parcel not subject to such conversion by subtracting
the proportionate part of the agricultural assessment attributable to
the portion so converted. Provided further that land within an
agricultural district and eligible for an agricultural assessment shall
not be considered to have been converted to a use other than for
agricultural production solely due to the conveyance of oil, gas or wind
rights associated with that land.

(v) An assessor who imposes any such payments shall annually, and
within forty-five days following the date on which the final assessment
roll is required to be filed, report such payments to the commissioner
of taxation and finance on a form prescribed by the commissioner.

(vi) The assessing unit, by majority vote of the governing body, may
impose a minimum payment amount, not to exceed five hundred dollars.

(vii) The purchase of land in fee by the city of New York for
watershed protection purposes or the conveyance of a conservation
easement by the city of New York to the department of environmental
conservation which prohibits future use of the land for agricultural
purposes shall not be a conversion of parcels and no payment shall be
due under this section.

e. Notwithstanding any inconsistent general, special or local law to
the contrary, if a natural disaster, act of God, or continued adverse
weather conditions shall destroy the agricultural production and such
fact is certified by the cooperative extension service and, as a result,
such production does not produce an average gross sales value of ten
thousand dollars or more, the owner may nevertheless qualify for an
agricultural assessment provided the owner shall substantiate in such
manner as prescribed by the commissioner of taxation and finance that
the agricultural production initiated on such land would have produced
an average gross sales value of ten thousand dollars or more but for the
natural disaster, act of God or continued adverse weather conditions.

* f. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the
owner of real property which qualified for an agricultural assessment on
the two thousand twenty -- two thousand twenty-one assessment roll and
is not producing an average annual gross sales value of at least either
ten thousand dollars or more or fifty thousand dollars or more, as such
value would normally be determined pursuant to section three hundred one
of this article may nevertheless qualify for an agricultural assessment
on the two thousand twenty-one -- two thousand twenty-two assessment
roll provided the owner shall substantiate in such manner, including,
but not limited to, analysis by an entity with recognized expertise in
farm production and finances, such as cooperative extension or a farm
credit institution or federal farm agency, as prescribed by the
commissioner of taxation and finance that the agricultural production
initiated on such land would have produced an average annual gross sales
value of ten thousand dollars or more or fifty thousand dollars or more
over the time period beginning on January first, two thousand nineteen
and ending on December thirty-first, two thousand twenty but for the
effects of the state disaster emergency declared pursuant to executive
order number two hundred two of two thousand twenty.

* NB Repealed January 1, 2022

3. Policy of state agencies. It shall be the policy of all state
agencies to encourage the maintenance of viable farming in agricultural
districts and their administrative regulations and procedures shall be
modified to this end insofar as is consistent with the promotion of
public health and safety and with the provisions of any federal
statutes, standards, criteria, rules, regulations, or policies, and any
other requirements of federal agencies, including provisions applicable
only to obtaining federal grants, loans, or other funding.

4. Limitation on the exercise of eminent domain and other public
acquisitions, and on the advance of public funds. a. Any agency of the
state, any public benefit corporation or any local government which
intends to acquire land or any interest therein, provided that the
acquisition from any one actively operated farm within the district
would be in excess of one acre or that the total acquisition within the
district would be in excess of ten acres, or which intends to construct,
or advance a grant, loan, interest subsidy or other funds within a
district to construct, dwellings, commercial or industrial facilities,
or water or sewer facilities to serve non-farm structures, shall use all
practicable means in undertaking such action to realize the policy and
goals set forth in this article, and shall act and choose alternatives
which, consistent with social, economic and other essential
considerations, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize or avoid
adverse impacts on agriculture in order to sustain a viable farm
enterprise or enterprises within the district. The adverse agricultural
impacts to be minimized or avoided shall include impacts revealed in the
notice of intent process described in this subdivision.

b. The agency, corporation or government proposing the action shall
also, at least sixty-five days prior to such acquisition, construction
or advance of public funds, file a notice of intent with the
commissioner and the county agricultural and farmland protection board.
Such notice shall include a detailed agricultural impact statement
setting forth the following:

(i) a detailed description of the proposed action and its agricultural
setting;

(ii) the agricultural impact of the proposed action including
short-term and long-term effects;

(iii) any adverse agricultural effects which cannot be avoided should
the proposed action be implemented;

(iv) alternatives to the proposed action;

(v) any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of agricultural
resources which would be involved in the proposed action should it be
implemented;

(vi) mitigation measures proposed to minimize the adverse impact of
the proposed action on the continuing viability of a farm enterprise or
enterprises within the district;

(vii) any aspects of the proposed action which would encourage
non-farm development, where applicable and appropriate; and

(viii) such other information as the commissioner may require.

The commissioner shall promptly determine whether the notice is
complete or incomplete. If the commissioner does not issue such
determination within thirty days, the notice shall be deemed complete.
If the notice is determined to be incomplete, the commissioner shall
notify the party proposing the action in writing of the reasons for that
determination. Any new submission shall commence a new period for
department review for purposes of determining completeness.

c. The provisions of paragraph b of this subdivision shall not apply
and shall be deemed waived by the owner of the land to be acquired where
such owner signs a document to such effect and provides a copy to the
commissioner.

d. Upon notice from the commissioner that he or she has accepted a
notice as complete, the county agricultural and farmland protection
board may, within thirty days, review the proposed action and its
effects on farm operations and agricultural resources within the
district, and report its findings and recommendations to the
commissioner and to the party proposing the action in the case of
actions proposed by a state agency or public benefit corporation, and
additionally to the county legislature in the case of actions proposed
by local government agencies.

e. Upon receipt and acceptance of a notice, the commissioner shall
thereupon forward a copy of such notice to the commissioner of
environmental conservation and the advisory council on agriculture. The
commissioner, in consultation with the commissioner of environmental
conservation and the advisory council on agriculture, within forty-five
days of the acceptance of a notice, shall review the proposed action and
make an initial determination whether such action would have an
unreasonably adverse effect on the continuing viability of a farm
enterprise or enterprises within the district, or state environmental
plans, policies and objectives.

If the commissioner so determines, he or she may (i) issue an order
within the forty-five day period directing the state agency, public
benefit corporation or local government not to take such action for an
additional period of sixty days immediately following such forty-five
day period; and (ii) review the proposed action to determine whether any
reasonable and practicable alternative or alternatives exist which would
minimize or avoid the adverse impact on agriculture in order to sustain
a viable farm enterprise or enterprises within the district.

The commissioner may hold a public hearing concerning such proposed
action at a place within the district or otherwise easily accessible to
the district upon notice in a newspaper having a general circulation
within the district and posted on the home page of the department's
website, and individual notice, in writing by first class mail, to the
municipalities whose territories encompass the district, the
commissioner of environmental conservation, the advisory council on
agriculture and the state agency, public benefit corporation or local
government proposing to take such action. On or before the conclusion of
such additional sixty day period, the commissioner shall report his or
her findings to the agency, corporation or government proposing to take
such action, to any public agency having the power of review of or
approval of such action, and, in a manner conducive to the wide
dissemination of such findings, to the public. If the commissioner
concludes that a reasonable and practicable alternative or alternatives
exist which would minimize or avoid the adverse impact of the proposed
action, he or she shall propose that such alternative or alternatives be
accepted. If the agency, corporation or government proposing the action
accepts the commissioner's proposal, then the requirements of the notice
of intent filing shall be deemed fulfilled. If the agency, corporation
or government rejects the commissioner's proposal, then it shall provide
the commissioner with reasons for rejecting such proposal and a detailed
comparison between its proposed action and the commissioner's
alternative or alternatives.

f. At least ten days before commencing an action which has been the
subject of a notice of intent filing, the agency, corporation or
government shall certify to the commissioner that it has made an
explicit finding that the requirements of this subdivision have been
met, and that consistent with social, economic and other essential
considerations, to the maximum extent practicable, adverse agricultural
impacts revealed in the notice of intent process will be minimized or
avoided. Such certification shall set forth the reasons in support of
the finding.

g. The commissioner may request the attorney general to bring an
action to enjoin any such agency, corporation or government from
violating any of the provisions of this subdivision.

h. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no
solid waste management facility shall be sited on land in agricultural
production which is located within an agricultural district, or land in
agricultural production that qualifies for and is receiving an
agricultural assessment pursuant to section three hundred six of this
article. Nothing contained herein, however, shall be deemed to prohibit
siting when:

(i) The owner of such land has entered into a written agreement which
shall indicate his consent for site consideration; or

(ii) The applicant for a permit has made a commitment in the permit
application to fund a farm land protection conservation easement within
a reasonable proximity to the proposed project in an amount not less
than the dollar value of any such farm land purchased for the project;
or

(iii) The commissioner in concurrence with the commissioner of
environmental conservation has determined that any such agricultural
land to be taken, constitutes less than five percent of the project
site.

For purposes of this paragraph, "solid waste management facility"
shall have the same meaning as provided in title seven of article
twenty-seven of the environmental conservation law, but shall not
include solid waste transfer stations or land upon which sewage sludge
is applied, and determinations regarding agricultural district
boundaries and agricultural assessments will be based on those in effect
as of the date an initial determination is made, pursuant to article
eight of the environmental conservation law, as to whether an
environmental impact statement needs to be prepared for the proposed
project.

i. This subdivision shall not apply to any emergency project which is
immediately necessary for the protection of life or property or to any
project or proceeding to which the department is or has been a statutory
party.

j. The commissioner may bring an action to enforce any mitigation
measures proposed by a public benefit corporation or a local government,
and accepted by the commissioner, pursuant to a notice of intent filing,
to minimize or avoid adverse agricultural impacts from the proposed
action.

5. Limitation on power to impose benefit assessments, special ad
valorem levies or other rates or fees in certain improvement districts
or benefit areas. Within improvement districts or areas deemed benefited
by municipal improvements including, but not limited to, improvements
for sewer, water, lighting, non-farm drainage, solid waste disposal,
including those solid waste management facilities established pursuant
to section two hundred twenty-six-b of the county law, or other landfill
operations, no benefit assessments, special ad valorem levies or other
rates or fees charged for such improvements may be imposed on land used
primarily for agricultural production within an agricultural district on
any basis, except a lot not exceeding one-half acre surrounding any
dwelling or non-farm structure located on said land, nor on any farm
structure located in an agricultural district unless such structure
benefits directly from the service of such improvement district or
benefited area; provided, however, that if such benefit assessments, ad
valorem levies or other rates or fees were imposed prior to the
formation of the agricultural district, then such benefit assessments,
ad valorem levies or other rates or fees shall continue to be imposed on
such land or farm structure.

6. Use of assessment for certain purposes. The governing body of a
fire, fire protection, or ambulance district for which a benefit
assessment or a special ad valorem levy is made, may adopt a resolution
to provide that the assessment determined pursuant to subdivision one of
this section for such property shall be used for the benefit assessment
or special ad valorem levy of such fire, fire protection, or ambulance
district.

7. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, that portion
of the value of land which is used solely for the purpose of replanting
or crop expansion as part of an orchard, vineyard, or hopyard shall be
exempt from real property taxation for a period of six successive years
following the date of such replanting or crop expansion beginning on the
first eligible taxable status date following such replanting or
expansion provided the following conditions are met:

a. the land used for crop expansion or replanting must be a part of an
existing orchard, vineyard, or hopyard which is located on land used in
agricultural production within an agricultural district or such land
must be part of an existing orchard, vineyard, or hopyard which is
eligible for an agricultural assessment pursuant to this section or
section three hundred six of this article where the owner of such land
has filed an annual application for an agricultural assessment;

b. the land eligible for such real property tax exemption shall not in
any one year exceed twenty percent of the total acreage of such orchard,
vineyard, or hopyard which is located on land used in agricultural
production within an agricultural district or twenty percent of the
total acreage of such orchard, vineyard, or hopyard eligible for an
agricultural assessment pursuant to this section and section three
hundred six of this article where the owner of such land has filed an
annual application for an agricultural assessment;

c. the land eligible for such real property tax exemption must be
maintained as land used in agricultural production as part of such
orchard, vineyard, or hopyard for each year such exemption is granted;
and

d. when the land used for the purpose of replanting or crop expansion
as part of an orchard, vineyard, or hopyard is located within an area
which has been declared by the governor to be a disaster emergency in a
year in which such tax exemption is sought and in a year in which such
land meets all other eligibility requirements for such tax exemption set
forth in this subdivision, the maximum twenty percent total acreage
restriction set forth in paragraph b of this subdivision may be exceeded
for such year and for any remaining successive years, provided, however,
that the land eligible for such real property tax exemption shall not
exceed the total acreage damaged or destroyed by such disaster in such
year or the total acreage which remains damaged or destroyed in any
remaining successive year. The total acreage for which such exemption is
sought pursuant to this paragraph shall be subject to verification by
the commissioner or his designee.

In administering this subdivision, the portion of the value of land
eligible for such real property tax exemption shall be determined based
on the average per acre assessment of all agricultural land of the
specific tax parcel as reported in a form approved by the commissioner
of taxation and finance.