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“Agritourism” ordinance aims to maintain farm dominence in Bedminster


The new “agritourism” accessory use ordinance for Bedminster Township, still in the draft discussion stage, has evolved to sharply limit the new activities that would be allowed, to those directly related to agriculture.

Thus, public events such as art shows, car shows, weddings, concerts, and other commercial, entertainment, and retail events not directly related to agriculture would be excluded, while activities such as u-pick fruits and vegetable operations, and hay and other wagon rides, would be included. The discussion is continuing at morning supervisor work sessions, which supervisors note are just as open to input from the public as their evening monthly public meetings. Both meeting schedules are listed on the township website.

The progress on the draft was provided at the Sept. 11 board of supervisors meeting. Presentation and discussion had previously been conducted during their April and July meetings.

Noticing that property owners in nearby townships have sometimes added accessory uses to the consternation of their neighbors, Bedminster is acting toward minimizing such occurrences for their own residents. Officials have noted that the state legislature acted “a long time ago, requiring each municipality” to provide opportunity for a broad range of zoning types.

The basic zoning amendment proposal, designed to mitigate the effect of that requirement on residents while maintaining the rights of promoters, has been reviewed and recommended by the township planning commission.

The new agritourism accessory use calls for an already-existing general farming or equestrian use. New activities are subject to a variety of general and particular requirements, such as limits on hours of operation, and operators being “limited to the owner of the principal use on the site, his/her immediate family, and no more than the equivalent of 10 full-time employees.”

Meanwhile, also at the Sept. 11 supervisors meeting, the board continued its commitment to maintaining the farming tradition that was the main occupation in Bedminster for much of its history. In particular, they accepted another application for inclusion in in the township’s Agricultural Security Area (ASA), this time from the 42-acre Buehner property on Dublin Pike, toward protecting it from “nuisance complaints” such as odor during fertilizer application, as well as from certain eminent domain seizures, and possibly as a step toward land preservation designation.

In addition, they approved Conservation Easement Agreements of Sale for the 62-acre Labs property on Edge Hill Road, and the 77-acre Labs/Labs/Keeler property on Kellers Church Road. The latter provides the stunning viewshed on both sides of Kellers Church, behind the municipal meeting room and police station building on Bedminster Road.

The sales are funded for the township contribution from its Open Space Fund, while much larger contributions are to be approved from the county, including contributions that entity gets from the state.