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Preserving Local Food Options & Farmland, Part I

Week of June 14, 2015

Last week, Klesick Farms and you, our Good Food Community, teamed up with Kristin Kelly, the executive Director of Snohomish County Futurewise, and the Pilchuck Audabon Society to encourage our County Council to “preserve local food options and farmland.” In 2012 the County Council voted 5-0 to implement the current Transfer of Rights Development (TDR) program. Last week the Council voted 4-1 to essentially gut the TDR program and give the development community the “green light” to build more single family homes. So now the County Council has “caved” in to the developers’ wishes, meaning our urban areas will still receive most of the incoming population growth.

If the Council would have stood on their decision to support TDR, that growth would have still gone to our urban areas, but we would have been able to preserve, forever, thousands of acres of farmland at the same time. The Council, except Dave Somers, didn’t want to hold the line and require the development community to use TDRs. Council members Ken Klein, Terry Ryan, Brian Sullivan, and Stephanie Wright voted against TDR. So now Snohomish County residents will still get the extra growth, but the developers will get more profits and no farmland is protected. That is not a win-win; it is a windfall profit for a few landowners and developers.

Also, in 2012, Council members Brian Sullivan and Stephanie Wright voted for the TDR program. If they would have voted the same way this time or committed to stand with TDR, I wouldn’t have had to ask for your help. Ironically, Council members Brian Sullivan and Stephanie Wright were not running for reelection in 2012, but they are this year.

What really bothers me is the lack of integrity that exists in our political process. This change to the TDR program “came out of nowhere” and was timed to limit public participation and placed into legislation where there is no repeal process. Where is the transparency in that!

This week Kristin and I will be asking for your help again to send one final email message to the County Council expressing our dissatisfaction with their vote and a desire for more transparency in the process. Please join us in sending a strong response for the Council to preserve our local food options and farmland by implementing wise growth policies going forward.

Kristin Kelly and I both believe that the Snohomish County can balance the need to accommodate the future growth with protecting our farmlands. It is more than doable. Click here to send your response to the Snohomish County Council.

Respectfully submitted,

Farmer Tristan