Governor Phil Murphy has signed legislation authorizing commercial farms located on preserved farmland to hold special occasion events.
The new law expands authorization of special occasion events at commercial farms and wineries on preserved farmland. The League opposed S-757 as originally passed by the legislature because it provided inadequate limitations on special occasion events, allowing preserved farmland to be used for non-agricultural purposes, undermining the intent of the state’s successful farmland preservation program.
Governor Murphy then conditionally vetoed the bill as originally passed in the legislature, sending it back with his recommendations. These recommendations helped to address some of the League’s concerns, including limiting the number and scope of special occasion events and the area on the farmland where the events can be held. The recommendations also provided clarity on municipal review of event applications.
Under the signed law, commercial farms may hold up to a maximum of 26 events per year, of which only six may have 250 guests or more in attendance at any time during the event. A special occasion event is required to not interfere with the use of the preserved farmland for agricultural or horticultural production, have minimal effects on the occupied area, and must be designed to protect the agricultural resources of the land to ensure that it can be readily returned to productive agricultural or horticultural use after the event.
All applicable State and local laws and ordinances, including those concerning food safety, litter, noise, solid waste, traffic, and the protection of public health and safety, apply to the special occasion events. All special occasion events would have to be applied for, and receive approval from, the State Agriculture Development Committee. In addition, a municipality may require a commercial farm to submit an application for approval of conducting special occasion events and may charge an application fee of up to $50.
The Senate approved the Governor’s recommendations last October, and the Assembly approved them last month. The law became effective immediately.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., Associate General Counsel, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481, x137.