The defendant enacted a Master Zoning Plan (MZP) that is regulated and enforced via a series of ordinances. At issue was an ordinance that limited one residence to a lot ("base tract"), but to build a second residence on a lot, the lot must be subdivided and an Improvement Location Permit is obtained. The MZP contains a farm exemption which exempts farm houses and other farm structures from the one residence restriction when the lot is used for agricultural purposes as a primary means of livelihood. The base tract was 59.2 acres when the plaintiff bought it in 1993 from a decedent's estate. The deed required the plaintiff to continue to have the land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). In 1996, the plaintiff built a residence (a second residence on the tract) without obtaining an Improvement Location Permit and did not apply for subdivision approval. Instead, the plaintiff argued that the tract was exempt from the zoning rules due to being used for agricultural purposes. The defendant sought removal of the residence from the parcel and the trial court agreed, granting the defendant summary judgment. On appeal, the court affirmed. The court noted that the plaintiff purchased the property subject to a condition that it remain in the CRP. The court upheld the trial court's finding that "land in a conservation reserve program can not, by definition, be farmed." The appellate court also stated, "it cannot possibly be used for agricultural purposes unless and until the CRP contract expires. As such, there is no way for the farm exemption to apply. The court's opinion is completely silent that it is the position of the federal government that land enrolled in the CRP produces self-employment income that must be reported on a farmer's Schedule F as farm income where it is subject to self-employment tax. That is the case for a retired person on social security, although CRP rents paid to such persons are statutorily not subject to self-employment tax. Apparently, this significant point was not briefed and argued by the plaintiff's lawyer. Kruse v. DeKalb County Plan Commission, No. 17A03-1406-PL-227, 2015 Ind. App. LEXIS 120 (Ind. Ct. App. Feb. 27, 2015).
- Ag Docket