Snohomish County has a rich tradition of farming. It’s also a major part of the economy. According to 2012 figures from the USDA: the total value of farm production in the county was more than $139 million. As the county continues to grow it is important to protect agricultural land for the many benefits it provides, yet a promising approach to conserving farms is now at risk of being severely weakened.
An innovative program that Snohomish County has embraced, called transfer of development rights (TDR), is on the verge of success. It’s an idea that is already protecting land in other Washington counties and it works like this: farmers can sell the right to build homes on their land to developers, who then can build at higher densities in places where growth is desired, like urban areas.
Transfer of development rights encourages growth where there is infrastructure, transit, jobs, businesses, services, and schools; and protects farms from sprawl – permanently. Plus it’s market-based, so it doesn’t create a cost to taxpayers, and it has the support of farmers, environmental groups, tribes, and cities. Multiple new developments have been proposed in Snohomish County where the builder wants to use the program. So what’s the problem?
With demand for new housing in Snohomish County rising, the TDR program is on the verge of producing results. Many housing projects are currently in the pipeline, representing over 300 acres of privately-financed farmland conservation (or 4,800 acres of forest conservation) through TDR. Some developers, however, have decided they do not want to use the program and are asking the county council to be exempted. This will greatly reduce the amount of voluntary farmland and forest protection we can generate now and in the future.
The TDR is about to succeed and the county should give it a chance. We’re taking a stand to keep Snohomish County’s TDR program intact. And we’re asking you to join us in speaking up for farms, sustainable growth and economic prosperity. Tell the Snohomish County council to let TDR work. Here’s how:
Email the council and let them know what you think:
District 1: Ken Klein
District 2: Brian Sullivan
District 3: Stephanie Wright
District 5: Dave Somers
Call the council to tell them you care about Snohomish County farmland protection and to keep TDR intact so it has a chance to work:
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Standup for farms and sustainable growth @snocounty – Keep the TDR program intact #forthisplace.