Clear, consistent rules needed for Little Compton agriculture

Posted Sunday, October 7, 2018 12:00 am

Agriculture remains an important foundation of Little Compton’s economy and identity.

Through the Agricultural Conservancy Trust, the town has invested tens of millions of dollars to preserve Compton’s productive farmlands. The challenge of supporting the activities of local farmers while maintaining the integrity of residential neighborhoods can’t be addressed passively or arbitrarily.

In the town’s two zoning districts —Residential and Business — agriculture is a permitted use by right. No matter the outcome of the pending litigation surrounding Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard, the next Town Council will need to review the zoning ordinance regarding accessory agricultural uses. Such a process must encourage ample involvement from the town’s citizens, including its active farmers.

An amended and consistently applied ordinance should ensure that legitimate agricultural enterprises can operate: 1) in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner; 2) with respect for landowner property rights; 3) in conformance with the state Right to Farm Act; and 4) with due consideration for neighboring residents and property owners. Achieving such a balance will be a challenging task. But it is, I believe, a necessary one in order to sustain agricultural activities that benefit all the community, by providing food, employment, income, and the open spaces we all enjoy.

Larry Anderson

Democratic candidate for Little Compton Town Council