Friends of Clark County is working hard to make Clark County an even better place to live, work and raise a family. An important part of our advocacy has been to challenge the county’s Rural Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2016. This plan would lead to sprawling development across the rural landscape, subdivide farms and forestland and place a strain on resources. And there is good news – the State Growth Management Hearings Board agreed with most of the issues the Friends raised in our appeal.
But our work is not done on this issue. On Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 10:00 a.m., at the Public Services Center, 6th Floor, Vancouver – the Board of Clark County Councilors will conduct a public hearing to consider the following:
1. Changing the zoning of AG-1 0 and FR-20 parcels back to AG-20 and FR-40, respectively, as they were
before the update;
2. Changing certain R-10 parcels back to R-20, as they were before the update;
3. Amending the map to provide for three different Rural designations, as they were before the update:
R-20, R-10.and R-5; and
4. Removing 17 parcels from the Battle Ground urban growth area, as it was before the update.
Please show up to speak in favor of the changes or send the Councilors an email of support to: Rebecca.Tilton@clark.wa.gov. Written testimony should be received at least 2 days prior to the hearing date.
Due to some health issues, our beloved president, Sydney Reisbick, is stepping aside. She will remain as advisor so will become president emeritus. She has guided us through some extremely difficult times over the last several years, and has been instrumental in our recent success with our appeals to the Growth Management Hearings Board. We are so grateful for her continuous efforts and wise counsel as we faced so many challenges.
Vice President Sue Marshall will become president and Heather Tischbein will be vice president. Val Alexander will continue as Secretary and Lucy Krantz will stay as treasurer.
Rural-landowners group sees appeal dismissed; environmental groups declare victory
(Clark County is rapidly growing in places such as the Interstate 5/Northeast 179th interchange. On Thursday, a battle over how the county will grow was settled, for now.)
A state land-use board on Thursday issued its long-awaited decision about appeals to Clark County’s Comprehensive Growth Management Plan. Though it will take some time to analyze the complex ruling in depth, a rural-landowners group saw its challenges against the plan dismissed while environmental groups declared victory.
The county’s comprehensive plan is a document required by the Growth Management Act and is meant to guide growth in the county for the next 20 years. After it was passed by the county council last summer, it quickly drew challenges from two different angles.
Local environmental group Friends of Clark County was joined by Seattle-based Futurewise in its appeal, alleging that the county plan contained 12 violations of state law, including improperly expanding urban growth areas, removing agricultural land, failing to properly fund a transportation plan and contributing to sprawl by shrinking minimum lot sizes for agricultural and forest land. The two groups also challenged a move by the county to establish an industrial land-use bank on the Lagler Dairy property along Northeast 117th Avenue in Brush Prairie.
Clark County Citizens United, a landowners group, appealed the plan from a different angle. The group alleged that the county essentially discriminated against rural landowners. Their appeal claimed that the county violated public participation processes that excluded rural and resource landowners, low-balled its population projection and put unlawful limits on the acres of rural land available for development.
On Thursday, the Growth Management Hearings Board, a quasi-judicial panel that adjudicates charges that local jurisdictions aren’t complying with the Growth Management Act, issued its long-awaited order on Clark County’s comprehensive plan.
“The (board members) concluded Clark County did not err in its public participation process, private property rights procedures, population projections, remainder parcels claims, transportation or capital facilities or environmental claims,” reads the synopsis of its 101-page decision.
The decision appeared to dismiss virtually every challenge made by CCCU, describing the group’s arguments over the alleged lack of public participation as “torturous” and “difficult to follow.”
CCCU did not respond to a request for comment after the appeal was released Thursday afternoon.
However, the decision appears to give FOCC and Futurewise a partial victory. It states that the county violated the Growth Management Act by allowing development outside of the current urban growth area and permitting La Center, Battle Ground and Ridgefield to expand their urban growth areas. The decision also found the county violated state law by reducing the minimum lot size of agricultural lots from 20 acres to 10 acres, and of forest lots from 40 acres to 20 acres, and erred in creating the rural industrial land bank. The rural land bank would allow the dairy, which is located along a state highway but far from city limits, to be redeveloped for industrial uses.
“We are very pleased with the decision,” Tim Trohimovich, Futurewise director of planning and law, wrote in an email. “It will help protect working farms, working forests, and taxpayers from overdevelopment.”
The order sends the plan back to the county for revisions, which are due in the fall.
Clark County Council Chair Marc Boldt told The Columbian that Deputy Prosecutor Christine Cook would evaluate the decision over the next few days.
The parties have the right to appeal the hearings board’s decision in the courts.
Do you support farming in Clark County?
Let the Clark County Council hear from you!
The Clark County Council is holding their annual planning retreat February 16th. Let them know you feel farming is a priority they should be planning for. Show your support for the “Conserve Long-term Commercially Viable Farms in Clark County – 2017 Winter Request”.
Conserve Long-term Commercially Viable Farms in Clark County – 2017 Winter Requests:
Dedicate a Council Work Session to review the 2008 Agriculture Preservation Strategies Report, to identify success stories from its recommendations and identify opportunities for implementation. The Clark County Food System Council can put together a panel of local and regional experts for this work session.
Appoint an Agricultural Commission to work with citizens, agricultural producers and public officials to conserve and support long-term economically viable farms in Clark County (Recommended in 2008 Agriculture Preservation Strategies Report).
The 2008 Agriculture Preservation Strategies Report was developed by the Board of Clark County Commissioners to recommend the most effective short- and long-term actions to protect the opportunity to pursue and enhance commercial and non-commercial agriculture in the county. The 2012 County Council shelved the Agriculture Preservation Strategies Report and choose to let a small group of large landowners guide development of the rural areas of Clark County.
What can I do?
1. Offer comment at the next two County Council meetings in support of “Conserve Long-term Commercially Viable Farms in Clark County – 2017 Winter Request”. 2/7 6pm or 2/14 10am.
2. Have your farm, business, or organization sign the “Conserving long-term commercially viable farms in Clark County – 2017 Winter Request”
3. Email comment advocating the County Council support the “Conserve Long-term Commercially Viable Farms in Clark County – 2017 Winter Request”
Why support FARMS?
Clark County farms support the local economy
· Local farms employ more than 4,000 people. Preserving agriculture land provides economic opportunity for new farmers and allows for existing farms to expand, keeping these jobs local.
· Supporting local farms keeps our money circulating locally.
· Locally produced food travels shorter distances, reducing transportation costs and carbon footprint while maintaining food quality.
· Privately-owned and managed agriculture land generates more local tax revenues than it costs in services.
Local food is healthy for people and for land
· Good farming practices can help preserve clean water and healthy soil.
· Encouraging the production, distribution, and procurement of food from local farms increases the availability to and consumption of locally produced foods for our community.
· Maintaining the potential to grow more of our own food helps make us resilient in the event of major emergencies.
· Local food has a lower risk of causing food-borne illnesses because it spends less time in transit, doesn’t change hands as often and is more apt to be processed in small batches.
The rural character of farm land enhances the quality of life
· A high quality of life is attractive to employers wanting to locate in Clark County.
· Agricultural land provides habitat for wildlife and allows natural water filtration.
· Food grown closer to consumers uses less fossil fuels which contribute to pollution, greenhouse gases and emissions, extreme heat days, flooding, drought, deteriorating air quality, and other impacts to human health.
Questions or feedback contact: