Over the protests of some residents, Wyoming County supervisors Friday approved a revised agricultural district.
The move allows 5,405 acres to be removed from the district located in the towns of Bennington, Attica, Sheldon and Orangeville. Supervisors also approved 456 separate acres to be added to the district.
Several residents expressed concerns during a public hearing in August that they wanted to keep their property in the district, even if their land was not used for farming. County officials had initially wanted to take 6,721 acres out of the district but did not after they learned that additional land was being used for farming.
"They still insist that they want to be in the district, but we cannot allow that to happen," said Richard Tindell, executive director of economic development.
Tindell said such land cannot remain in the district if it is not used for farming.
"The intent of the ag district is to help protect and retain farmland," Tindell said. "We cannot have any more than 50 percent in the district not be for farming operations."
He said that with the changes, an estimated 51 percent of land in the district is used for farming.
"We spent a lot of time on this," Tindell said. "We gave people ample time to call."
County officials said that the revised district serves as an "overlay" area and that town zoning laws calling for agricultural areas, even in locations proposed to be taken out of the county district, will remain in effect.
Bennington Supervisor Chris Hickey said he hoped that residents could be informed about proposed changes in other agriculture districts sooner. He also expressed hope in streamlining the process.
Tindell said there is often not a lot of feedback from residents until after informational letters about any proposed changes go out. He did add that changes will be made to the process.