Codes and Regulations
Until recently, city codes, zoning laws, and other regulations have largely ignored urban agriculture. However, these codes and regulations can intentionally and unintentionally regulate urban farming activities in a myriad of ways, such as by regulating the construction of structures, including chicken coops or greenhouses, the ability to keep livestock, gain access to public lands and municipal facilities, transport and distribute urban grown food and so on.
Municipal codes and regulations are unique to individual towns or in some cases, counties. While general codes for some New York State counties can be accessed online through websites such as Municode (http://www.municode.com/) and General Code (http://www.generalcode.com/ecode360/NY), the most effective approach is often contacting agencies in your town or county. Starting with your local Cooperative Extension can help streamline your research. Each county in NYS has an Extension office (http://cce.cornell.edu/). Another helpful resource may be NYS Agriculture & Markets (http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/cg/CGResources.html), which has county and regional offices.
For New York City’s zoning resolution, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/zone/zonetext.shtml. Because these codes often impact urban farming indirectly and might be difficult to decipher, urban farmers should also consider discussing their plans with local farming organizations or other farmers.
The Urban Agricultural Legal Resource Library
The Urban Agricultural Legal Resource Library, a project of the Sustainable Economies Law Center (http://www.theselc.org/), provides general information and resources about agricultural legal topics as they pertain to urban farmers. These include planning and zoning, building codes, food and health regulations, employment law, homeowners’ associations, and non- and for-profit urban agriculture issues and models. Visit http://www.urbanaglaw.org for more information.
See Factsheet #2, Advocacy and Planning, for information about changing zoning codes to support urban agriculture.