In 1982 the Ohio General Assembly passed into law the creation of Chapter 929 of the Ohio Revised Code. This law is a direct effort of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) and others, that is designed to remove some of the influences that may cause farmland to be converted to non-agricultural uses. The goal of an agricultural district is to help landowners/farmers deal with governmental powers of eminent domain, nuisance lawsuits and water, sewer and electrical assessments that will help keep farmers farming.
Chapter 929 allows farm owners to initiate an agricultural district. Once a district has been created the owner may receive a deferment or exemption from the collection of monies involving water, sewer or electrical assessments, providing the land continues to be commercially farmed. Legal protection is provided to the owner if a nuisance lawsuit is filed against his farming operation and limited protections are provided against a public entity with the powers of eminent domain. If a governmental or public entity exercises the right of eminent domain they may not appropriate more than 10 acres or 10 percent (whichever is greater) of the owners district land to be used for highway or utility purposes. Having an agricultural district does not reduce real property valuations (fair market value) and does not reduce real estate taxes.
At any point in time the owner of agricultural land (see requirements, next paragraph) may file an application with the Auditor's Office to place his land in an agricultural district for five (5) years. This application will be immediately acknowledged/approved by the Auditor's Office except for land in a municipal corporation. A copy of the application filed with the County Auditor must be filed with the municipality the land lies within. The municipality then has 30 days to approve, approve with modifications or reject the application for inclusion in an agricultural district. The municipality is required to notify the Auditor's Office of its decision.
All farms larger than 10 acres qualify for an agricultural district if they have been devoted exclusively to "commercial" agricultural production for the past three (3) years. Farms smaller than 10 acres are eligible if the average yearly gross farm income for the past three (3) years is at least $2,500 from "commercial" agricultural production. See the CAUV qualifications and Section 5713.30 (A) of the Ohio Revised Code for further explanation (the CAUV program and the agricultural district program have the same qualifications/requirements).
An agricultural district is a five (5) year obligation. At the end of the five year period the owner may withdraw from the district with no penalty or renew the district for another five years. The Auditor's Office will automatically send a renewal application to the owner (every five years). Land that is transferred to a new owner during the period in which the land is an agricultural district shall continue in the district under the terms of the existing district unless the new owner elects to discontinue inclusion in the district and notifies the Auditor within 60 days after the property transfers. Failure of the new owner to continue the district for the duration of the period in which the land is in the district is considered "withdrawal" and is subject to penalty. Withdrawal from an agricultural district includes the explicit removal of the land from an agricultural district or the conversion of the land in an agricultural district to be used for purposes other than agricultural production. The penalty for withdrawal from an agricultural district is based on the average bank prime rate (set at the time of actual withdrawal) times the total recoupment charge from the CAUV program.
For more information please contact the Auditor's Office at (513) 695-1235 or CAUV@wcauditor.org