Zoning designation robbed owner of use of property

December 24, 2010 

Name a country where a minor governmental agency can administratively acquire private property without due process or accountability, maintain their administrative hold on it despite the legal owners following every defined appeal process to extricate it, and continue government control of that property for years without consequence.



This would be Thurston County, Washington in the United States of America.

I want to thank The Olympian for reporting on the status of my property — Schader Crown Ranch — in Yelm which was administratively assigned — without notice — to long term agricultural zoning status in January 2008.

Long term agriculture land is “commercially significant agricultural land” with 20 inches or more of top soil. Its only legal use is the farming of crops.

It has nothing to do, as Scott Clark, county director of long-range planning, implies — with the owning of tractors or cattle. It is a permanent classification that cannot be altered.

I believe that preservation of farmland is important. If my land were farmland (and not clay and rocks) I would welcome this designation.

Real agricultural land is rare in Thurston County and valuable. It is a shame for all of us that the planning department chose to permit housing developments on land that actually could grow crops, and now finds itself forced to indiscriminately seize land that is marginal even for the summer grazing of cattle.

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