Category Archives: Property

Addressing the Legal Side of Spring Agritourism Activities

Written by: Chris Hogan, Law Fellow, OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program

If you are an agritourism provider or are interested in learning more about agritourism, sign up for our AgritourismReady event on April 5th!  Details of the event are here.

Spring has sprung and many agritourism providers are busy gearing up for spring agritourism activities such as maple syrup production, school tours, and berry picking. Agritourism providers should take time this spring to review the key elements of Ohio’s new agritourism law and understand how the law affects the agritourism operation.

Ohio’s new agritourism law applies to qualifying farms, including you-pick operations and farm markets, when an agritourism activity is conducted on that farm.  A qualifying farm under the law is either at least 10 acres in size or a farm under 10 acres that grosses an average income of $2500 from production (the same requirements for qualifying for Ohio’s CAUV property tax program).  Agritourism activities include agriculturally related educational, entertainment, historical, cultural, or recreational activities.  Below are two important benefits of Ohio’s agritourism law that agritourism providers should review this spring: liability protection and zoning protection.

Liability Protection

One of the main benefits of the law is liability protection for agritourism providers against claims by participants injured as a result of an inherent risk of an agritourism activity. The law defines inherent risks to be dangers and conditions that are an integral part of the activity, including surface and subsurface land conditions, actions of wild animals and domestic animals other than vicious or dangerous dogs, dangers of farm structures and equipment, illness from contacting animals, feed or waste, and the participant’s failure to follow instructions or use reasonable caution.

There are several limitations and requirements under the law that impact this liability protection. Most importantly, agritourism providers must post signs either at the entrance to the farm or at each agritourism activity in order to receive liability protection under the law.  The signs must meet the specifications of the law.  For more information about posting signs and the law’s liability protection, our previous post on agritourism is here.

Zoning

Ohio’s agritourism law also provides some zoning protections to agritourism providers. Under the law, township and county zoning authorities cannot prohibit agritourism activities on farms.  But, townships and counties can regulate some factors related to agritourism to protect public health and safety. These factors include the size of structures used primarily for agritourism, setbacks for structures, ingress and egress from the parcel, and the size of parking areas.  A township or county that wants to regulate these limited factors must have provisions addressing the factors in the local zoning code.  We explain the zoning provisions of the agritourism law in more detail in our law bulletin, here.

Preparing for the 2017 Season

As agritourism providers prepare for the 2017 season, providers should take a few actions to ensure the benefits of the agritourism law for their operations:

  • Post the required signs at the entrance to the agritourism operation or at each agritourism activity. Also, consider adding your own signs to give instructions, guide visitors safely around the property or warn visitors of potential hazards.
  • Even with the law’s liability protection, make sure the property is as safe and clean as possible.  Spring is a good time to walk the property to identify any dangerous conditions that might put a visitor at risk and fix those conditions before inviting guests on the property.
  • Farms under 10 acres in size should take time to brush up on good recordkeeping practices. Farms that are under 10 acres may be required to prove that they qualify as a farm under the agritourism law by showing $2500 in gross receipts.  Be sure to maintain all records of farm income.
  • If starting a new agritourism activity, check the local zoning code to see if the township or county has zoning requirements for the few agritourism factors it can regulate.  Be prepared for a visit by the local zoning inspector and be ready to show the inspector that the activity falls under the new agritourism law’s zoning protections because it is “agritourism” conducted on a “farm.”

A full description of the Ohio Agritourism Law is available via our law bulletin here.

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Ohio Senate to Consider “Purple Paint Law” for Trespassing

The Senate Judiciary today heard testimony in support of a proposed change to Ohio’s criminal trespass laws.  The “purple paint law” proposed by Sen. Bill Coley (R-Liberty Twp.) allows landowners to use purple paint to alert potential trespassers of property boundary lines.  The purple paint would serve the same purpose as a “No Trespassing” sign by indicating that a person does not have permission to enter the property.

“It is often difficult for landowners, particularly owners who have large pieces of real estate, to maintain and replace their “No Trespassing” signs on a regular basis,” states Rep. Coley.  “This legislation amends Ohio’s criminal trespass law to allow purple paint to be a warning sign for trespassers.”

Ohio’s criminal trespass law establishes misdemeanor penalties for persons who knowingly or recklessly enter or remain on land of another without authorization from the landowner.  The law allows a landowner to notify a potential intruder that access is prohibited in several ways:  by actual communication, by fencing designed to restrict access, or by signage or posting in a manner reasonably calculated to come to the attention of potential intruders.  The proposed bill would clarify that “posting in a manner reasonably calculated to come to the attention of potential intruders” would include placing identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts around the property.  The purple marks would have to be readily visible vertical lines at least eight inches long, with the bottom of the mark being at least three feet but no more than five feet from the base of the tree or post and no more than 25 yards from the next paint mark.

Today’s committee hearing is the first for the bill.  If the legislation eventually passes through the House and Senate, Ohio would join a dozen other states around the country in allowing purple paint to mark property boundary lines for trespassing purposes. Similar laws exist in West Virginia, Kansas, Arizona, Montana, Arkansas, Idaho, Florida, Maine, North Carolina, Missouri, Illinois and Texas.

Follow the proposed purple paint law, SB 76, here.

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U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Landowner’s Right to Appeal “Waters of the U.S.” Determination

A landowner may immediately appeal an agency’s determination that property contains “waters of the United States” that is subject to the federal Clean Water Act, according to a decision issued today by the United States Supreme Court.  Read this post here.

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Ohio Supreme Court Resolves Grain Bin Taxation Issue

Grain bins are “business fixtures” that are personal property and not subject to real property tax, according to a decision issued today by the Ohio Supreme Court.  Continue reading.

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Filed under Property, Tax

FAA Proposes Rule for Small Drone Operation

After much anticipation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published proposed regulations that would govern the operation of drones used for agricultural and other activities.   To read this post, visit our new blog site at http://aglaw.osu.edu/blog. 

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Filed under Crop Issues, Property

Leasing Your Land for Hunting: Legal Considerations

With fall quickly approaching, now is a good time to consider whether you should lease your land for hunting. To read this blog, go to aglaw.osu.edu/blog.

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Filed under Animals, Property

Ohio Legislature Grants Invasive Species Authority to Ohio Department of Agriculture

The Ohio House of Representatives gave final approval on May 21, 2014 to a bill initiated in the Senate that addresses invasive plants. To read this post, go to our new blog website at http://aglaw.osu.edu/blog.

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Filed under Crop Issues, Environmental, Property