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Farmony iNC

HOW MADISON COUNTY HAS HABITUALLY ABUSED OUR PROPERTY AND OUR CIVIL RIGHTS

“When you abandon the rule of law… and the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

Justice Louis Brandeis, 1928

Wise and poetic words for this country then and for Madison County right now!

 

The following is a list of some of the things Madison County has done to us which destroy our property and violate our civil rights.

  • The sheriff, Buddy Harwood, and now commissioner Mike Garrison, told neighbors to vandalize our property and remove our gate. They also told us we cannot have a gate, which is not true. When we asked them to provide us with the ordinance pertaining to this, they refused. When we asked them to talk to the neighbors about tampering with our security cameras, Mike Garrison told us that there is no law about tampering with security cameras.
  • We also have video of sheriff deputies, (while trespassing), trampling our landscaping, littering our property, and trying to break into a locked gate which resulted in damage to the gate as well as the electric arm.
  • The sheriff ordered a detective to trespass on our property and collect illegal evidence.
  • Cited us more than once for violating ordinances that we are legally exempt from.
  • Raised our taxes 4 times in 1 ½ years & won’t tell us why.
  • Tried to get the U.S.D.A. not to give us a permit.
  • They will not respond to our multiple requests for public information based on the Freedom of Information Act. (A violation of federal law.)
  • Has not ever responded to anything we sent them.
  • Are taxing us for an organization that existed in Florida, but has never operated in this state.
  • Sent us a violation notice with a fine of $57,000 saying that we violated a land use ordinance. The ordinance they provided does not actually exist. We are also completely exempt from their land us ordinance. (Chapter 1.1 of the Madison County Land Use Ordinance states that “Bona fide” farms are exempt from the Land Use Ordinance. We are registered with the state of North Carolina as a bona fide farm with tax exempt status. We are also registered with the U.S.D.A. as an official farm. According the Madison County land use ordinance, EITHER of these gives us exemption from that ordinance.
  • They are now saying that we are a “Recreational Facility” because we charge a fee. We have actually never charged a fee. We are a registered non-profit and had a “suggested donation.” ALSO, THE LAND USE ORDINANCE THAT CLEARLY STATES THAT WE ARE EXEMPT, DOES NOT STATE  ANY EXCEPTIONS ANYWHERE, AND NOWHERE DOES IT STATE THAT WE COULD NOT CHARGE A FEE. It also clearly states that any form of agriculture, or horticulture is considered agricultural use. We would not need a permit from the United States Department of AGRICULTURE, if we were not an agricultural entity. There are multiple agricultural entities in Madison County that charge fees. They have not been told they need a zoning variance.
  • The land use ordinance says that “Recreational Facilities” are things like a bowling alley, skate rink, or water park, and that our purpose would be to amuse and entertain. To be put in that category, we would also have had to either sell tickets or charge a fee. As previously stated, we have never done either. Our entrance was always stated as a suggested donation to our non-profit. The county is claiming that accepting a donation is exactly the same thing as charging a fee. Even if we did charge a fee for agricultural experiences, it does not make us a Recreational Facility. That would be like you attending a math class with a teacher that taught math in a very amusing and entertaining way, and claiming that it was not a math class, but actually a comedy show.
  • At one point the county ordered us to get rid of all our animals within 10 days. (They have zero authority over any animal on our property.)
  • They have also cited for violating the sign ordinance. The first paragraph of that ordinance clearly states that 501(c)3 organizations are exempt from that ordinance. We are a registered 501(c)3 and we have told them that but once again get no response.
  • The commissioners held an illegal, behind closed doors meeting solely for the purpose of harassing us. (We have proof of this.)
  • Sent us notice of violating an ordinance along with the amount of fines for that violation, when in fact, that ordinance never actually existed.
  • The manager’s office on multiple occasions as failed to respond to our requests for public information. This violates the United States Freedom of Information act. We have told them more than once that this in violation of that act, and yet still never received a response. Again, we have proof of this.
  • All “evidence” in our files from the courthouse, are copies of a website from a different organization that existed in another state. You cannot legally use this as evidence about anything we are doing in this county.
  • Any supposed evidence that was obtained while trespassing, or through any other illegal activities is not court presentable evidence. So far we have not seen any actual evidence of any wrong doing on our part.
  • The county provided as “evidence” that we were violating their ordinances by providing pictures of a Sheriff Department employee, while trespassing, taking selfies, showing people on our property, which everyone including us has the right to do, and a picture of two $20 bills. As far as we can tell, all of that shows that you trespassed, you don’t take very good selfies, but you do know how to take a picture of arbitrary money.
  • We have also not been legally notified of any court dates, hearings, etc. The few notices we received came well after the date of the meeting or hearing. After getting a copy of our records from the courthouse, it is very clear that we were not even notified at all of several proceedings.
  • We have already filed an official complaint about the county with the United States Department of Justice. We are also talking to the F.B.I. about several of the actions Madison County employees have taken against us. They say that some of these actions are extremely serious offences.
  • We have also had conversations with attorneys from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. They have told us that we are clearly an agricultural entity and legally exempt from the land use ordinance. They also stated that not only can we charge a fee, they encourage agribusiness and agritourism facilities to charge a fee and that doing so does not put us in a different zoning category. They also say that even if people are entertained or amused during their agricultural experience it is still agricultural and does not exclude us from the land use exemptions.
  • Going back over 40 years a United States Attorney General has been a supporter of our organization. We also have N.C. Senators and Representatives supporting us.
  • It is time to stop this blatant abuse on us and focus your attention and taxed based resources to any of the numerous things that actually need attention and resources in this county. We have done NOTHING wrong and are not harming anybody or anything. You cannot legally make up things that don’t exist in your laws and continue to say we are in violation of them just because you said so. There needs to be an actual law that specifically describes what you are accusing us of.
  • Before we bought our property, we spoke with then Director of zoning, Ryan Cody. We told him what we wanted to do on the property and what type of activities we would conduct there. He told us that we did not need any permits or zoning changes, since everything we would be doing was agricultural, and we were already zoned for that use. After owning the property a very short time, we received a letter from Mr. Cody stating 6 violations. We went to his office to discuss these with him. He told us that none of the 6 items was actually a violation, but that he was told to “word things strongly to us.” We will likely be looking into getting a deposition from him, and ask more specifics such as which individuals told him to threaten us with false accusations as well as other questions.
  • Shortly after acquiring our property, Madison County employees spreading false and malicious rumors. One of these rumors was that our tigers and lions had escaped and were killing the local livestock. We have never had any large cat, and have no plans to ever have one. However if your intent is simply to get the neighbors to dislike us, that is a false, (and illegal), but interesting way to do it.
  • We are currently working with attorneys, as well as politicians in Raleigh, and the consequences to the county for these and other actions that have violated our property and civil rights could be staggering.