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Growth Management Act Compliance

Background Information on Agricultural Lands of Long Term Significance Public Process

Why This Project Was Necessary

Please click here for a Q&A that explains the background of this project. This document was distributed at the November 19, 2008 meeting in Rochester; click here for the most current status.

Results from the Thurston County Planning Commission Public Hearing

The Thurston County Planning Commission held a public hearing on March 19, 2008 at Swede Hall in Rochester. The purpose of the public hearing was to accept public comment on proposed amendments to the official Thurston County Zoning Map and two maps in the Thurston County Comprehensive Plan: M-15, Future Land Use and M-42, Designated Agriculture and Forest Lands. 

After the March 19 public hearing, the Planning Commission requested to hear expert testimony from the Thurston Conservation District and United States Department of Agriculture. Expert testimony suggested that in addition to state guidelines for designating Agricultural Lands of Long-Term Commercial Significance, the Planning Commission should consider the following criteria:

  • Lands with slopes of 8% or greater are not suitable for designation as Agricultural Lands of Long-Term Commercial Significance due to soil erosion;
  • Lands that are predominantly wetlands and are not currently in an agricultural use are not suitable for designation as Agricultural Lands of Long-Term Commercial Significance due to impacts to wetlands;
  • Parcels less than 20 acres which were not contiguous with other Agricultural Lands of Long-Term Commercial Significance are not suitable for designation as Agricultural Lands of Long-Term Commercial Significance due to their size; and finally
  • Lands with soil depths of less than 20 inches are not suitable for agriculture.

As a result of public and expert testimony, the Planning Commission asked staff to perform additional analysis to identify lands unsuitable for designation due to slopes, wetlands, and size. The analysis indicated that 3,588 acres of the 5,934.8 acres originally considered were not suitable for designation. Soil-depth was not considered in this subsequent round of analysis due to limitations on staff resources.

Guidance from the Board of County Commissioners

On October 13, 2008, the Thurston Board of County Commissioners heard staff presentations and recommendations. The Board directed staff to:

Provide notice to property owners whose properties may be affected by designation as Agricultural Lands of Long-Term Commercial Significance;

  • Hold an open house to solicit comments and answer questions regarding designations;
  • Bring the issue to a public hearing; and finally
  •  Provide property owners an opportunity to demonstrate that their lands do not meet the soil-depth criteria. 
Property owner notification - Mailings to affected property owners were mailed the week of November 3, 2008.

Rochester Open Houseopen house in Rochester

 Staff held an open house at Swede Hall in Rochester on November 19, 2008 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Information and listening stations were provided to allow the public to review draft maps and ordinances, provide written public comment and have questions answered by staff. Public comments, concerns and recommendations were forwarded to the Board for future deliberations.

 Soil depths - Property owners who believed that their property may have been erroneously designated as Agricultural Lands of Long-Term Commercial Significance were able to seek to have their property removed from designation. County staff prepared a site-specific soil survey method that provided property owners an opportunity to demonstrate whether or not their property qualified as Agricultural Lands of Long-Term Commercial Significance.
Click here for the LTA Site Evaluation Protocol document - Revised 12/16/08
(PDF 196Kb)

Public Hearing

Thurston County Commissioners held a public hearing on the designation of Agricultural Lands of Long-Term Commercial Significance, and other comprehensive plan amendments on December 8, 2008. Legal notices were published in the Nisqually Valley News and Daily Olympian on the week of November 11, 2008. Legal notices were also mailed to affected property owners prior to the hearing as required by Thurston County Code.

Status

Click here for the current status of this project.

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Contact Us

Interested Parties: If you would like to be added to our Web Mail list, please click here. Staff contact: Christy Osborn, Associate Planner. Phone: (360) 754-3355, x4465 E-mail: osbornc@co.thurston.wa.us 

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