Planners to hear agricultural exemption issue

Port Townsend Leader

Jefferson County, WA - 1/6/03 - The Jefferson County Planning Commission is taking up the challenge of protecting both agriculture and fish habitat at its public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5 at the WSU campus in Port Hadlock.

In March 2002, the county settled an appeal of its Unified Development Code (UDC) filed by the environmental group Washington Environmental Council (WEC). In that settlement, the county agreed to change the UDC so that agricultural lands would no longer receive a blanket exemption to requirements for buffers to protect environmentally sensitive areas such as creeks.

As a result, says Dave Christensen, the county's natural resource manager, some agricultural lands are going to be subject to the same kinds of building setbacks that would apply to residential and commercial properties.

What the county has not determined is which properties will continue to get the blanket exemption and which properties will either follow the standard UDC rules or be able to negotiate other conditions.

Christensen acknowledges that some property owners who use their land for agriculture and are not in the production zone are miffed at the county because of the negotiated settlement with WEC. But he notes that a number of other counties were challenged at the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board on the same issue by WEC, and they all lost.


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