County Planners Split Over Rural Lands Rezoning

The Olympian is reporting the nine-member Thurston County Planning Commission has failed to produce a unified recommendation as to “how much of county’s rural lands to rezone — 28 percent, 40 percent or neither.”

Click here to read the entire article.

The County Commissioners will need to come to a decision. They will discuss the three Planning Commission proposals on April 5. “After that,” according to the newspaper report, “commissioners will likely conduct a public hearing before making a final decision.”

Residents hereabouts are likely to ask, “What’s the big deal?”

Much of Thurston County is zoned residential, 1 house per 5 acres. Back in July, 2005, the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board ruled the county needed to add more low-density zoning districts. Exactly how to go about doing that is the big issue. How can the county rezone in a way which will both protect natural resources, preserve some sort of rural character, and yet will not reduce the value of people’s property?

Five planning commissioners supported a proposal to rezoning significant portions of the county at one home per 10 acres. In addition, no land would be rezoned only for the reason of preserving so-called “rural character.”

A minority proposal, supported by two commissioners would rezoning portions at one home per 20 acres. More than 1,000 acres would be rezoned one home per 20 acres to preserve rural character.

Joyce Roper, Chair of the Planning Commission and a member of the GNA Board, didn’t vote for either option. According to The Olympian, Roper prefers to rezone some land to preserve rural character, but wants a one-home-per-10-acre zoning district.

Now’s the time to reacquaint ourselves with the issues surrounding these important decisions. If there are to be public hearings, they will likely be over the specific Planning Commission proposals.

For more information on rural rezoning and the Planning Commission’s activities, click here to visit the County’s Rural Rezoning web pages.

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