Attorney Kay Doyle obtained a decision in Essex Superior Court dismissing a complaint for civil contempt brought by the operators of Ingaldsby Farm and the Town of Boxford Building Inspector. The decision in Nissenbaum v. Price, et al., ESCV2008-00541, is the first court ruling to examine what level of documentation may be required of farm stands to demonstrate compliance with the agricultural exemtpion in G.L. c. 40A §3 since the exemption was amended in 2007 and 2010.
The Court found that a summary chart of register receipts generated during the harvest season of the primary crop was sufficient to show complance with a prior court order requiring the farm stand to file documentation with the Town, prior to opening for the season, demonstrating it was protected under the agricultural exemption in G.L. c.40A §3. The Court noted that although the summary chart was sufficient, it was appropriate for the Building Inspector to request more documentation if he felt it necessary. The Court also ruled that for such purposes, a farmer may designate a primary crop without needing to prove that it was the primary crop, and further determined that designating a crop as the primary crop on the basis that it occupied the most acreage during cultivation was reasonable.