Tillamook County SB1517 Pilot Program – October 19th Open House

www.tillamookcountypioneer.net


Tillamook County Community Development invites the community to an open house on Thursday, October 19th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Tillamook Bay Community College to find out more about the 10-year pilot program. This legislative action tasked Tillamook County to develop and test a new program that has environmental restoration organizations and the agricultural communities working together. At the open house, there will not be a formal presentation, and everyone is encouraged to drop in anytime to review wetland and agricultural land inventories and ask questions about the project.

In 2016, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 1517 to establish a pilot program for farmers and conservationists to engage in a dialogue around decisions that impact farming and habitat in Tillamook County. Stakeholders will collaboratively develop a framework to identify lands under Exclusive Farm Use zoning designation that provide highest value to habitat, lands where the highest value is agricultural production and approaches that can make the two uses more compatible. “We are about one-third of the way through this process,” said Hilary Foote, Tillamook County Community Development Land Use Planner and project manager. “This project is a big deal for Tillamook County to develop a program that provides the opportunity to have conversations between environmental and agricultural interests and have them working together.” For more information, go to the county website at http://www.co.tillamook.or.us/gov/ComDev/SB1517/default.htm The inventory of historic and current locations for wetlands is available at: http://www.co.tillamook.or.us/gov/ComDev/SB1517/Wetland_Ag%20Inventory%20Memo%20100217.pdf

Here is some background about SB1517, the process and status:
Oregon land use laws and the Tillamook County Land Use Ordinance allow a variety of farm or forest related uses on farm zoned lands. Uses that are allowed conditionally on Farm zoned property are subject to ORS 215.296, which requires a local government to determine whether the proposed use forces a significant change in accepted farm or forest practices on surrounding lands and allows the local government to attach conditions to an approval to reduce the impact of the proposed use on the surrounding area. Under current law and County Land Use Ordinance, the creation, restoration or enhancement of a wetland is an allowable use on Farm zoned land and does not require a review by the County to consider the impact of the project on surrounding farm practices.  In the past, Tillamook County community members have come together to support restoration projects that benefit water quality, habitat and community needs like flood prevention. However, concerns have also been expressed by the community that these types of projects have the potential to result in unintended impacts to surrounding agricultural lands.  Some concerns put forth by the agricultural community related to restoration projects have been: loss and fragmentation of agricultural lands, raised water tables leading to increased ponding and flooding of agricultural lands, salinization of pasture lands and crop damage related to increases in ungulate populations.
In 2016, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1517 which allows Tillamook County to design an innovative framework for farmers and conservationists to engage in a dialogue around decisions that impact farming and habitat restoration in Tillamook County. 
Specifically, Senate Bill 1517 allows the governing body in Tillamook County to adopt, by ordinance, a pilot program to establish a conditional use review process for the creation, restoration or enhancement of wetlands in areas that are zoned Farm (F-1). The Act requires the pilot program to include a mechanism for interested parties, prior to approval or denial of permit, to enter into a collaborative process to settle any disputes related to the application.
In addition, Senate Bill 1517 authorizes Tillamook County to initiate a planning process to identify areas that are zoned for Exclusive Farm Use (EFU) and are suitable for wetland creation, restoration or enhancement; and areas that are zoned for EFU that are designated for use as priority area for the maintenance of agricultural use.  This Planning Process is currently underway.  
Planning Process:  Over the next two years of the Planning Process Tillamook County will, with robust stakeholder engagement, collaboratively develop a framework for identifying lands that provide highest value to habitat and those whose highest value is agricultural production. This process will:
Identify the historic and current location and quantity of wetlands within the county;
Inventory potential wetland projects and the type and level of services they may provide in terms of water quality, habitat, flood mitigation and other values;
Assess agricultural interests and the land use patterns necessary for the stability of farming;
Determine locations where the creation, restoration or enhancement of wetlands is likely to materially alter the stability of the agricultural land use patterns or cause a significant change to farming practice;
Create a toolkit of creative approaches that might enable the uses to co-exist.
Tillamook County has entered into a contract with Cogan Owens Greene to perform the analytic and evaluative work required by this process. 
1. Inventory Phase: Identify the historic and current location and quantity of wetlands within the county and current agricultural land use patterns. A copy of the Inventory Memo can be found here.  Please forward questions or comments on the Inventory Memorandum to  Hilary Foote at hfoote@co.tillamook.or.us or 503-842-3408×3314
2. Assessment Phase: Assess agricultural interests and the land use patterns necessary for the stability of farming.  Assess type and level of services provided by potential wetlands in terms of water quality, habitat, flood mitigation and other values.  This phase is scheduled to begin in August 2017 with public outreach anticipated for fall 2017.
3. Evaluation Phase: Determine locations where the creation, restoration or enhancement of wetlands is likely to materially alter the stability of the agricultural land use patterns or cause a significant change to farming practice. Create a toolkit of creative approaches that might enable the uses to co-exist. This phase is scheduled for winter 2017/2018.
Funding:  Funding for the SB1517 Planning Process was secured through a combination of private donations and grant monies. 
How will this product be used?   This product may be used to amend the Tillamook County Comprehensive Plan which would allow the Planning Process study to be used to inform land use decisions related to the new Conditional Use Review process for wetlands creation, enhancement or restoration projects located on property zoned Farm (F-1).  Any amendment to the Comprehensive Plan would occur through a separate, public Legislative Amendment Process. 
 
Questions comments?  Please contact Hilary Foote at hfoote@co.tillamook.or.us or 503-842-3408×3314