Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Snohomish county Ag advisory board

I spoke at the Snohomish county ag advisory board meeting on 10-6-2009, and gave them a brief rundown of my permit issues, as follows:

1) department of ecology telling me i couldn't farm my (zoned ag, used as ag, previously ag) land
2) pds citing me for
a) building without a permit
b) building within required setbacks
c) building in a protected wetland
d) grading without a permit
e) no flood hazard permit
f) $7,000 fine

3) my mostly winning my appeal of those issues in a hearing examiner hearing:
a) building size means it doesn't need a building permit
b) building location is not within required setbacks
c) land is agricultural, being used for agriculture, building is allowed
d) no grading permit required for farmland / right to plow
e) i am required to get a flood hazard permit
f) fine reduced to zero.

4) After paying for my flood hazard permit ($300) the county required me to:
a) survey my property at a cost to me of $3200
b) sign a notice of no human habitation
c) state that and prove that my building was constructed of flood resistant materials
d) prove that it was oriented in the direction of flood waters
e) provide structural drawings of my building
f) file a "salmonid species and resident killer whale habitat management plan"
PDS through the person of Roxanne Pilkenton has also said that because they hadn't been given guidance on the killer whale plan that they could not tell me what was required in it. (how do you evaluate something for completeness when you don't know what's supposed to be in it?) So I haven't pursued that plan because I don't think it should be required, and I don't know what should be included in it to be complete.

5) that the department of ecology cited me for "polluting the waters of the state" in the form of wood chips that I use as mulch, soil amendment and animal bedding on my farm.

Since I was limited to 5 minutes, that's about all I could say, but I hope that it did some good. There was general disbelief that the killer whale plan was required, and that wood chips were now a pollutant.

The funny thing is that the surface water management people were the next presenters after the public comment period and they were there to say that new regulations required mulch over bare ground in areas where animals are held. Now that the state has decided the mulching is pollution, I wonder if that will change their practices? The surface water management thing described the mulch as a "Best management practice" or "best practices".

Several commercial nurseries who own land on the flood plain and use it to grow plants and other agricultural uses were concerned about the wood chips use issue. Yep guys, if wood chips are illegal we're all going down.

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