FARMINGTON — Davis County has 357 new acres in its agricultural-protection program.
The Davis County Commission on Tuesday approved a petition from three Syracuse-area farmers, only the second time the county has moved to protect farmland.
The three landowners successfully sought agriculture-protection status that will immunize them from nuisance lawsuits as new neighbors move into the area.
Barry Burton, of the county's Community and Economic Development Office, said the new status keeps the land safe from condemnation by local governments and rezonings without the property owners' approval.
Property owners, however, can withdraw their land from the protection whenever they desire.
The 357 acres is in unincorporated Davis County in the area south of Syracuse roughly between 4000 West and 2500 West and 2700 South and Gentile Street. Petitioners were Lance Hamblin, William and Grant Roberts and Black Island Farms.
Lance Hamblin, the only landowner at the hearing, has a 10-acre dairy farm that has been in his family for three generations. He said some of his family members have sold their adjoining property, which has forced him to seek the agricultural protection.
"We have close neighbors now on the south side of 2700 South," he said, adding that he worries increasing development in the area will force him out of business.
"There were 10 dairy farms in Davis County a decade ago, now there are only two."
Hamblin said he wants to stay in the dairy business and hopes his sons will someday take over for him. He said he is working with the Nature Conservancy to buy 80 acres adjacent to his own to make his business more viable in the long run.
The Nature Conservancy, he said, has bought much of the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake in Davis County, and it needs runoff irrigation water from farmers to keep ponds full and wetlands wet.