929.02 Application with county auditor to place land in agricultural district.

(A) Any person who owns agricultural land may file an application with the county auditor to place the land in an agricultural district for five years if, during the three calendar years prior to the year in which that person files the application, the land has been devoted exclusively to agricultural production or devoted to and qualified for payments or other compensation under a land retirement or conservation program under an agreement with an agency of the federal government and if:

(1) The land is composed of tracts, lots, or parcels that total not less than ten acres; or

(2) The activities conducted on the land produced an average yearly gross income of at least twenty-five hundred dollars during that three-year period or the owner has evidence of an anticipated gross income of that amount from those activities. The owner shall submit with the application proof that the owner's land meets the requirements established under this division. If the county auditor determines that the application does not meet the requirements of this section, the county auditor shall deny the application and notify the applicant by certified mail, return receipt requested, within thirty days of the filing of the application. The applicant may appeal the denial of the application to the court of common pleas of the county in which the application was filed within thirty days of the receipt of the notice. If the county auditor determines that the application meets the requirements of this section, the county auditor shall approve the application and notify the applicant within thirty days of the filing of the application. An application that is not denied shall be deemed to be approved. The county auditor shall provide an applicant with a copy of an approved application within thirty days of the filing of the application. An application that is approved is effective upon the date of the filing of the application.

The county auditor shall keep a record of all land in the county that is within an agricultural district, including a copy of the final action taken by a legislative body regarding applications modified by a legislative body pursuant to division (B) of this section.

(B) If the land of a person who files an application under division (A) of this section is within a municipal corporation or if an annexation petition that includes the land has been filed with the board of county commissioners under section 709.02 of the Revised Code at the time of the filing, the owner also shall file a copy of the application for inclusion in an agricultural district with the clerk of the legislative body of the municipal corporation. No later than thirty days after the filing of an application or, in the case of an annexation petition filed pursuant to section 709.02 of the Revised Code, no later than thirty days after the petition has been granted, the legislative body shall conduct a public hearing on the application. The clerk of the legislative body shall cause a notice containing the substance of the application and the time and place where it will be heard to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the application or annexation petition is filed no later than seven days prior to the time fixed for the hearing. The clerk of the legislative body also shall notify the applicant of the time and place of the hearing by certified mail sent no later than ten days prior to the hearing. Any interested person or representative of an interested person may appear in support of or to contest the granting of the application. Affidavits presented in support of or against the application shall be considered by the legislative body. Within thirty days of the hearing, the legislative body may approve the application, modify the application and approve the application as modified, or reject the application. An application that is not modified or rejected by a majority vote of the members of the legislative body shall be deemed to be approved. Prior to rejecting an application, the legislative body shall make every effort to modify the application. Modifications may include the length of time during which land is considered to be within an agricultural district, size of the agricultural district, and any provisions of sections 929.03 to 929.05 of the Revised Code. If the applicant disapproves of the modifications made by the legislative body, the applicant may withdraw the application to place the land in an agricultural district. In rejecting or modifying an application to place land in an agricultural district, the legislative body shall demonstrate that the rejection or modification is necessary to prevent a substantial, adverse effect on the provision of municipal services within the municipal corporation, efficient use of land within the municipal corporation, the orderly growth and development of the municipal corporation, or the public health, safety, or welfare.

If an annexation petition is denied under section 709.033 of the Revised Code, if a legislative body fails to conduct a hearing in the time prescribed by this section, or if an application is approved, the application shall be deemed to have been approved and shall become effective as of the date the application was filed. An application approved with modifications shall become effective as of the date the application was filed unless the modification provides otherwise.

The clerk of the legislative body shall notify the applicant by certified mail, return receipt requested, sent within five days of the decision to approve, modify, or reject an application for inclusion of land in an agricultural district. The clerk of the legislative body shall also transmit a copy of the decision to approve, modify, or reject an application to the county auditor. An applicant may appeal a decision to modify or reject an application to the court of common pleas of the county in which the application was filed within thirty days of the receipt of the notice of modification or rejection.

(C) At any time after the first Monday in January and prior to the first Monday in March of the year during which an agricultural district terminates, the owner of land in the agricultural district may file a renewal application to continue the inclusion of all or part of the owner's land in an agricultural district for a period of time ending on the first Monday in April of the fifth year following the renewal application. The requirements for continued inclusion in the agricultural district and the renewal application procedure shall be the same as those required for the original application for placing land in an agricultural district. The county auditor shall notify owners of land in agricultural districts eligible to file a renewal application for continued inclusion in an agricultural district on or prior to the first Monday in February or the date upon which the county auditor notifies owners of land valued at agricultural use value for real property tax purposes of the necessity of filing a renewal application to continue valuing the land at agricultural use value. On or before the second Tuesday after the first Monday in March, the county auditor shall determine whether the owner of any land in an agricultural district eligible to file a renewal application failed to file a renewal application with respect to that land and shall forthwith notify each owner of the land by certified mail that unless a renewal application is filed prior to the first Monday in April, the land will be removed from the agricultural district upon its termination date. An approved renewal application is effective on the termination date of the preceding agricultural district. Failure of an owner to file a renewal application prior to the first Monday in April of the year during which the owner's agricultural district terminates shall not prevent the owner from filing an application to include the owner's land in an agricultural district.

Land that is transferred to a new owner during the period in which the land is an agricultural district shall continue in the agricultural district under the terms of the existing district unless the new owner elects to discontinue inclusion in the agricultural district and files the election with the county auditor within sixty days after the transfer. Failure of the new owner to continue inclusion in the agricultural district for the duration of the period in which the land is in the agricultural district is withdrawal from an agricultural district subject to penalty.

(D) If, at any time during which land is in an agricultural district, the owner withdraws the land from the district, the owner shall notify the county auditor of the withdrawal and shall pay to the county auditor a withdrawal penalty calculated as follows:

(1) If the owner's action also disqualifies the owner's land for any tax savings that it had been receiving under sections 5713.30 to 5713.38 of the Revised Code, the owner shall pay a percentage of the amount charged under section 5713.34 of the Revised Code that is equal to the average bank prime rate at the time the amount charged under that section is required to be paid. The withdrawal penalty shall be in addition to the amount charged under that section.

(2) If the land had not been receiving any tax savings under those sections, or if the owner's action does not disqualify the land for tax savings under them, the owner shall pay a percentage of the amount that would have been charged under section 5713.34 of the Revised Code if the owner's land had been receiving tax savings and became disqualified for them in an amount that is equal to the average bank prime rate at the time the amount that would have been charged under that section would have been required to be paid.

For the purposes of divisions (D)(1) and (2) of this section, the county auditor shall determine the average bank prime rate using statistical release H.15, "selected interest rates," a weekly publication of the federal reserve board, or any successor publication. If the statistical release H.15, or its successor, ceases to contain the bank prime rate information or ceases to be published, the county auditor shall request a written statement of the average bank prime rate from the federal reserve bank of Cleveland or the federal reserve board.

The county auditor shall calculate the amount of the withdrawal penalty that is due and shall notify the owner of it. The auditor also shall note the withdrawal in the auditor's records.

The county auditor shall distribute the moneys collected under division (D) of this section in the manner provided in section 5713.35 of the Revised Code for moneys that the county auditor collects under that section.

(E) Land that is included in an agricultural district under this section and that is subsequently annexed by a municipal corporation shall not be subject to division (B) of this section either at the time of annexation or at the time of any subsequent application or renewal application for inclusion in the district if, at the time of annexation, its owner did not sign a petition favoring annexation under section 709.02 of the Revised Code. If its owner did sign a petition favoring annexation, as provided in that section, or if the owner who opposed annexation has sold or transferred the land to another person who is keeping the land in the agricultural district, the land shall be subject to division (B) of this section at the time of any subsequent application or renewal application for inclusion in the district.

(F) The director of agriculture shall prescribe the application and renewal forms required under this section and shall furnish them to county auditors. In prescribing the forms, the director shall consult with the tax commissioner to determine if a single form can be developed for the purposes of this section and section 5713.31 of the Revised Code.

Cite as R.C. § 929.02

History. Effective Date: 10-26-2001