Ashtabula County Auditor-elect David Thomas urges farmers and Agriculture professionals in Ashtabula County to investigate the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) special referendum in Toledo which could have disastrous effects on Ag in Northern Ohio and take action. If it passes, "the measure would give Lake Erie and its watershed legal standing in court and allow any Toledo citizen to represent the lake and file lawsuits on its behalf." (Ohio Farm Bureau)
The LEBOR would allow any Toledo resident the ability to file a lawsuit against a business, government, or farm which the resident believes has caused harm to the quality of Lake Erie. Septic systems, farm run off, water drainage, and other potential causes of environmental impact could be standing for such a suit. Cleveland Plain Dealer
"This is a shortsighted and I believe unconstitutional infringement on the rights of property owners and residents in Northeast Ohio" said David Thomas, Ashtabula County Auditor-elect. "I encourage not just our Agriculture community but all of our residents to look into the LEBOR and take the steps necessary to protect yourself."
What can farmers and Agriculture property owners do?
Keep informed with the Ohio Farm Bureau and apply for an Agriculture District in Ashtabula County.
Agriculture Districts can be useful legal means to protect yourself from the LEBOR and other attacks on Ag.
Agriculture Districts can:
-Provide a legal defense against nuisance lawsuits
-Give protections against some eminent domain actions
-Grant financial advantages for frontage and certain special assessments
Qualifications for Agriculture Districts are the same as CAUV- at least 10 acres used for agricultural production or activities for three years and with an average yearly gross of at least $2,500 during that time period. If the property is in a municipal corporation, the city or village approves the application. The owner must still file with the Auditor's Office and it is then sent to the city/village for their approval.
The designation is good for 5 years, at which time the property owner should reapply. Additionally, there may be penalties for ending the Agriculture District prior to the 5 year time frame.
To apply, a farmer or Agriculture property owner must file a form with the County Auditor's Office. Ashtabula County residents should contact Heather Hall in the Auditor's Office at 440-576-3788 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To view the application and more information, click here.