The Weber County Commission has approved a special zoning restriction for farmers that protects them from encroaching developments.

The ordinance, approved by the County Commission, allows farmers to have their lands declared off-limits to future development and warns anyone developing around them that uses of the land in that area are restricted.The measure is intended to protect farmers from complaints and protests by area residents about the sights and smells that go along with farming.

After the ordinance takes effect in about two weeks, farmers will be able to apply for the special protection from a newly organized Agricultural Protection Area Advisory Board.

Ron Schultz, a West Haven farmer and member of the West Haven City Council, said the Legislature approved the special protection zones for farmers in 1996.

He said the law was the result of an Arizona case involving farmers who were forced out of business by city development. The farmers sued and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the farmers lost.

"Since that time there's been an effort in many states to find ways to keep people in agriculture, because it's what feeds the nation and the rest of the world," he said.

Schultz said the protection is needed in Weber County's rural areas because of encroaching development. The protection can also have a favorable effect on land values for farmers.

The bill passed by the Senate, however, didn't include a way for cities to protect farmers working on unincorporated land.