Standing up for farming in a field of varying views

first_imgCurrently, Proebstel farmer Gary Boldt has only flowers to sell.But when he does have lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, sweet corn, Brussels sprouts and other types of produce, he’ll easily fill a 1,000-square-foot roadside farm stand, which he sets up at his 80-acre farm, Velvet Acres Gardens.Boldt, president of the Clark-Cowlitz County Farm Bureau, testified Tuesday to Clark County commissioners that he would like county code to allow 2,000-square-foot roadside farm stands. Under existing code, roadside stands are supposed to be only 200 or 300 square feet, depending on the zone. A proposed code would expand the size to 1,000 square feet and allow the roadside stands in all zones in unincorporated areas, including urban residential zones.But Boldt didn’t feel the proposed size, while bigger, was big enough.And that’s just one example of how commissioners — including Boldt’s brother, Chairman Marc Boldt — thought they were being helpful to farmers when farmers felt they were being hurtful.Commissioners had been scheduled Tuesday to adopt codes regulating roadside stands and agriculture markets (which are different than roadside stands in that they are permanent structures, such as the type found at Bi-Zi Farms), and adopt an administrative form that would be used to keep a record of new agricultural structures.After feedback from farmers, commissioners didn’t do anything except set the controversial topics over to a June 12 meeting.Under the proposal, structures such as barns or personal riding arenas would remain exempt from building permit requirements and there would be no fee to fill out a form. Other counties require a permit or a land-use review for agricultural structures, said Marty Snell, director of the Community Development Department, so Clark County already has a lenient policy. Snell said the county wants a record of the buildings, however. Among other reasons, the county’s code enforcement officers get complaints about non-exempt uses, such as when someone has a human living in what’s supposed to be a barn, and the county wants to have a record of when the structure was built.last_img

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