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New Aquaculture Bill Will Deliver More Freedom for Oyster Farming

11 March 2014

US - The General Assembly has approved a bill that will allow oyster farming in agricultural districts, including York County, in Virginia state.

House Bill 1089, sponsored by Del. Rick Morris, R-Carrollton, has added aquaculture to the definition of agriculture in the state code and no longer allows localities to require a special-use permit for oyster farming or other agricultural activities in districts zoned for it, reports DailyPress.

The bill easily cleared both chambers. It then returned to the House for approval of an amendment that gives localities until 1 January 2015, to comply. The House approved the amended bill and it now goes to the governor.

Land-use disputes broke out in York County three years ago when two county residents, Anthony Bavuso and Greg Garrett, were told they could not continue to raise oysters at their homes without special-use permits.

Their cases went to the state's highest court, which in January sided with the county saying it was right to require permits under its land-use ordinance.

If Gov. Terry McAuliffe signs the new bill, it will render the state Supreme Court decisions moot.

According to Mr Morris, York County is the only locality in the state that requires permits for aquaculture. He said his bill corrects what he called a discrepancy in the law.

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