Suffolk County’s Farmland Development Rights program began in 1974 and is the oldest purchase of development rights (PDR) program in the nation. The Suffolk County PDR program continues to be a model for PDR programs across the nation. The farmland PDR program serves many vital functions but most importantly, it ensures that rich, viable agricultural soils and farmland properties within Suffolk County will be preserved permanently for farming use. Suffolk County has successfully protected approximately 11,000 acres of farmland since the program’s inception and over 20,000 acres have been preserved County-wide through a variety of County, Town, and Non-Profit farmland preservation efforts. A map of all Suffolk County preserved land can be found here.
The Suffolk County Department of Economic Development & Planning also administers the annual enrollment period for New York State’s Agricultural Districts Program. This Program encourages active farms to continue agricultural production by affording certain benefits to active farms under New York State’s right-to-farm laws. More details about his program are included below.
Suffolk County Farmland PDR Parcels Viewer
For the full-page map, click here.
Need help? Click here to watch a video on How to Extract a List of PDR Parcels From the Suffolk PDF Web App
Suffolk County Purchase of Development Rights Program:
The statute that governs Suffolk County’s Purchase of Development Rights program is known as Chapter 8, in Part III of the Administrative Local Laws of the Laws of Suffolk County. When a farmer agrees to sell the development rights to his/her land to Suffolk County, the farmer retains ownership of the land, but the use of that land is restricted to agricultural uses only. A Suffolk County Farmland Committee was created under Chapter 8, and its most important role is to determine which Suffolk PDR program applications should be recommended to the Suffolk County Legislature for purchase. This evaluation is based on several criteria, including the parcel’s soil quality, farmland contiguity, potential to preserve scenic vistas, the value of the property, and development pressures within the community-at-large. If you are interested in selling the development rights to your farm to Suffolk County, you can find a link to a “sample deed covenant” here. An application to sell your development rights to the County can be found here. Please refer to Chapter 8 to determine if selling the development rights to your farm is appropriate for your operation and business model. You can also contact August Ruckdeschel Farmlands and Open Space Coordinator at 631-853-4714 if you have any additional questions.
Suffolk County Farmland Committee
The Suffolk County Farmland Committee meets to approve agricultural development and special event permits on preserved Suffolk County farmland and to make recommendations for farmland preservation acquisitions to the Suffolk County legislature. The Committee consists of 20 members, nine appointed by the Suffolk County Executive and ten designated by the ten Suffolk County towns, with a designee appointed by each Town Board, and one County legislator.
Suffolk County Agricultural District Program
Suffolk County has four Agricultural Districts located in the Towns of Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip, Smithtown, Riverhead, Southold, Southampton, East Hampton, and Shelter Island. This program is a state-mandated program where the County is responsible for the administration of the annual enrollment period to consider new farmland parcels for inclusion into existing certified Agricultural Districts under NYS Agriculture and Markets Law. The benefits of inclusion in an Agricultural District include protection from nuisance complaints related to standard agricultural practices and protection from over-restrictive local regulations. You can click on an explanation of Agricultural Districts benefits here. A map of Agricultural Districts parcels in Suffolk County can be found below or click here.
The County has set up an Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board which reviews all properties being considered for inclusion into an Agricultural District. They make their recommendations to the County Legislature which then sends their approved list of farmland properties to the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets for ultimate review and inclusion into the State’s Agricultural Districts Program on an annual basis.
Suffolk County Agricultural District Parcels Viewer
For the full-page map, click here.
Benefits of Inclusion in an Agricultural District