Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 25, 2009

Production of Biodiesel Fuel for Off-Site Use is Not a Bona Fide Farm Use for Purposes of Zoning Exemption

Farm owners applied to have a part of their farm rezoned from single-family residential to heavy manufacturing conditional use district for the purpose of allowing for the “manufacture of soybeans and other crops to biodiesel.” The County Board of Commissioners approved the application and the Plaintiff’s sued.

The  trial court found [t]he production of biodiesel by a farmer on farm premises for agricultural purposes is a bona fide farm use and as such the production of biodiesel is exempt from county zoning ordinances pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-340 (2007).”  The court noted that as long as the use is not expanded beyond the production of 500,000 gallons per day, and the biodiesel so produced is used for agricultural purposes on their farm or sold for agricultural use, the production of biodiesel is a bona fide farm use as a matter of law. 

The Appeals Court reversed, finding that the production would be used for off-site commercial purposes.  Specifically, the Court said that the production of biodiesel in this case was a non-farm independent commercial enterprise and, when added to existing large-scale industrial farming operation does not involve the production of or an activity incidental to flowering plants, dairy, livestock, poultry, and all other forms of agricultural products as defined by state law that have a domestic or foreign market. Further, the Court noted that by seeking a rezoning, the owners acknowledged that the use was subject to zoning.

N. Iredell Neighbors for Rural Life v. Iredell County, 2009 WL 910964 (N.C. Ct. App. 4/7/2009)

 The opinion can be accessed at:


  1. And wind energy generation? Is that bona fide farming?

Leave a Reply to Tom Stacy Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: