Hearing on changes to county ordinances could affect you

To the Editor:
 The upcoming hearing regarding changes in the county ordinances for agricultural buildings is an important event, particularly for the many people engaged in agriculture in our county. 
 While the commissioners have stated their support for agriculture in our county, their actions over the past couple of years shows that they, in fact, are for more bureaucratic control, expense and hassle for those involved in agriculture to live and work on their own property, as evidenced by the agricultural building ordinance proposal. 
 Historically, the county has taken the stand that although the county code states single family dwellings are an approved use on A-1 (agricultural) land, they will not approve it if there is not an original parcel (5-4-1:A1). The original parcel ordinance was put in place in 1979 allowing four permits on any contiguous parcel of land however the size, whether 10,000 acres or 40. 
 Currently, according to the county, anyone wanting to build on A-1 land must go through a rezone and a full subdivision process if they do not have an original parcel permit, regardless of how many acres they use for agriculture purposes. 
 Former Commissioner Kirk Chandler sought to clarify the ambiguous language, and arguably, the unfairness, regarding original parcel permits and housing permits on agricultural land. The other two Commissioners, Nate Marvin and Lyndon Haines, stopped the process, refusing to even allow a hearing for citizens’ input. Now, those two commissioners have once again worked to increase the red tape and cost for agricultural buildings. They have shown their ignorance of the work of agriculture, originally wanting to forbid the use of agricultural buildings to house equipment, fix equipment, or if they contained the use of water in a sink or toilet, all legitimate needs for various types of agricultural work. While they have been forced to remove that absurd language from the proposed ordinance increasing county bureaucratic control, they continue to include more illogical requirements. 
 One of these requirements is that the designation of agricultural land is not determined by its use (such as grazing of cattle, farming, etc.) but by how much the owner makes on their agricultural property. Their demand that only those who make their principal income off of the property can claim agricultural status brings about a myriad of questions. Does this mean that the planning and zoning administrator is now going to go over our bank accounts, tax returns, or other financial documents to determine whether one is eligible for agriculture zoning? 
 Those receiving social security, having a second job, or having a pension need not apply unless their agriculture property is quite profitable? What if a property is held in trust, a corporation, or an LLC? The P & Z administrator better have a deep understanding of accounting and finance in order to understand all of the issues they will encounter in determining agricultural eligibility. 
 Not only do the two Commissioners, Haines and Marvin, not understand the principal industry of Washington County, their continual attack on private property rights and the ability for people to live and work on agricultural property should be of concern to us all. Let us all show up at the hearing to let them know that we not only support the rights of farmers and ranchers but also we reject their attempts at bureaucratic overreach.  
Mikal Smith
Midvale, ID


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

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