Rural Outreach NotesMarch 20th, 2010 by Diane Fish
Rural Outreach Meetings
The Kitsap County Department of Community Development hosts a series of Rural Outreach meetings to collect public comments on upcoming proposed rural programs and regulations.
- March 24, Seabeck Conference Center
- March 30, Port Gamble Pavilion
Meet the Food and Farm Policy Council and County Planners involved with Rural Code Development, the Rural Wooded Incentive Program, Limited Areas of More Intensive Rural Development (LAMIRD) creation, and amendments to the Rural Chapter of the Kitsap County Comprehensive Plan, and Olympic Property Group staff. For info: Katrina N. Knutson, at (360) 337-5777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was in the Kitsap Farm Calendar and there have been other articles and lots of discussion around the Sun article about this – but this is coming up THIS week! Please mark these on your calendar, put them on your Blackberry or make yourself a note about attending one of these rural outreach meetings.
What is really at issue here is the need for the county to understand the importance of the following:
- Farmers need access to certain kinds of things (tractor repair, veterinarians, cold storage, on-farm slaughter, seed, feed and hay distributors) and these businesses are appropriate activities for rural areas under the Growth Management Act. Our county currently makes it difficult to operate these types of activities in rural areas so they have to be located in much more expensive commercial or industrial zones. The comprehensive plan and county zoning must support these kinds of activities.
- Agricultural buildings are essential for farming operations – and while they need to be built appropriately so they don’t fall down and kill a cow they don’t need sprinkler systems, expensive permits or unreasonable setbacks. The county planners need to work with local farmers on this.
- Certain kinds of activities represent legitimate rural businesses and support the family farm like on-farm educational events and other agritourism activities; secondary businesses associated with the farm like farm stores, machinery repair, farm stands, or value-added food production; farm-based restaurants using home grown and locally sourced foods; bed and breakfasts; on-farm processing, packaging and storage of farm grown products.
- Livestock stocking densities should not be “one-size-fits-all” for rural areas. Help in determining stocking densities and husbandry practices should be the job of agencies like WSU Kitsap Extension Small Farms Program or Kitsap Conservation District – not the county planning department.
- Farming as an activity needs to be protected and encouraged – so Right to Farm for Kitsap County is important. Farming best practices include operation at odd hours, use of devices to deter predators (like bird cannons in orchards), agricultural burning and may result in odors, animal noises, and cattle breeding in the field next to where your children play. Farmers attempt to mitigate the impact of these things with careful planning, attention to weather patterns and good husbandry practices but they need to be protected from the costs of spending time, effort and money hiring an attorney to justify these activities as appropriate, usual or customary!
- Dairying, cheese making, value-added food production, poultry slaughter and other farm activities may generate waste water. The state DOE and WSDA adequately regulates these activities at the present time so county planning and health departments shouldn’t impose additional, burdensome regulation.
- Farmland preservation is important. Even if the land in question is attractively placed for urban growth or commercial development that zoning may not be the “best” use for the land and preservation for agriculture is a reasonable use for this land. Growth management was designed to concentrate growth in urban areas – do that instead of just expanding the urban areas to facilitate sprawl.
- Permitting and planning services for farms and agriculture-related businesses should be streamlined “one-stop-shopping” supported by county planners knowledgeable about good agricultural practices and farming activities.
- For farming and other natural resource activities to be a viable and vital part of economic activity in Kitsap County they should be seen as desirable rather than suspect. Preserving the rural character of the county does not mean creating or maintaining large vistas, open space or quaint rural features (like split rail fences and old barns) merely for the viewing pleasure of the residents of the nearby large lot development or as a scenic place for urban residents to walk their dogs. Working landscapes need to work!