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Down on the farm, property-rights fight gains ground in VA

By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau

RICHMOND, Va. — Fauquier County farmer Martha Boneta is hailing a bill that would give property owners a legal club to pummel overreaching government officials.

Boneta knows the stakes. In a widely reported showdown that sparked pitchfork protests in the community, Fauquier officials cited Boneta for selling homemade products on her farm. The county threatened her with $5,000-per-day fines for hosting a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls, and for advertising pumpkin carvings.

Calling her ongoing legal battle with government officials a “prime example why we need legislation,” Boneta praised HB 1219, introduced by state Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas.

“This could be the difference between keeping small family farmers on the farm, or being forced off the land,” Boneta told Watchdog.org Tuesday.

HB 1219 provides remedies, including damages and attorney fees, when localities “abuse zoning laws and violate constitutional rights,” Marshall said.

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