The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.
You have heard the story before.
A bunch of “city slickers” yearn for a more placid lifestyle while breathing country air. They purchase homes in what was once farmland and is now adjacent to a working farm. They congratulate themselves on living the carefree rural lifestyle.
Then one day, while relaxing outdoors on their upscale patio furniture, they are bothered by the smells of farm animals and the increased insects making a dive for the family watermelon picnic. When visualizing their country experience, they forgot that horses, cows, and pigs are not potty-trained and that flies and other flying critters enjoy the country life too.
If the neighboring farm grows produce, their tranquil pre-dawn and sunset hours could be interrupted by the noise of the harvest.
And the next thing you know, the homeowners are grumbling about the neighboring farmers and delivering petitions to their city councils and boards of health.
It happens throughout the state and right now a developer is planting seeds to start a future confrontation in northern Utah. He is soft-pedaling the concept of an “agri-hood,” combining the best of rural and suburban living. His project would plot 84 residential units on 53 acres, but his “carrot” to worried farmers is his allotment of 25 acres of open space to preserve the natural feel of the place. Like the televised Mr. Rogers, he wants residents to get to know their neighbors, which supposedly includes the farmers raking the manure nearby. (The man previously received permission for a similar 158-acre community blending the “best of suburban and agricultural living.”)
The developer is not some ogre trying to make a fast buck before flying off to his penthouse miles away. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he truly believes in his farm-suburb interaction.
The local farmers are naturally skeptical. One guy (who probably hails from Mars) actually said that he was in close contact with Pres. Trump who assures him of presidential intervention. However, one farmer expressed the challenge more succinctly when he told the Weber County Commission, “Dairy cows and people just don’t mix.”
Exactly! And it doesn’t matter whether the cows and pigs are squatting in southern Utah, central Utah, or nearer the population centers up north. Living near a farm includes certain noises and aromas not experienced by Park City folk sitting on their deck sipping Long Island iced teas.
Elected officials have to balance water rights and land use with personal property liberties; in legal terms, it’s often difficult to turn down a developer’s project. The Cyclops answer is to make all the once-urban homeowners fleeing to the “agri-hood” to sign a simple pledge:
“As a neighbor to a working farmer/rancher, I agree not to contact my councilman, commissioner, legislator, or Pres. Trump to complain about any smells, sounds, and other byproducts of farming operations. In the event I complain to anyone outside of my immediate family, I will be forced to house a pig, dairy cow, or nervous horse in my home for a minimum of 60 days in which I will attempt to instruct the animal on proper bathroom habits. As part of my penance, I will not be allowed to call a carpet cleaner to handle adequate clean-up or a farmhand to quiet the perplexed, enraged, or uncooperative animal. If the animal is not trained within the 60-day limit, the nearest farmer to my property can purchase my home for 20 percent of appraised value and convert it back to an appropriate farm.
To paraphrase Robert Frost, “Good fences (and a binding legal contract) make good neighbors!”