Farmers, food advocates to rally for agriculture

They want Transfer of Development Rights program in Clark County

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• What: Clark County councilors' weekly meeting.

? When: 6 p.m. today.

? Where: Clark County Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver.

? Information: <a href="http://www.clark.wa.gov/bocc">http://www.clark.wa.gov/bocc</a>

• What: Clark County councilors’ weekly meeting.

■ When: 6 p.m. today.

■ Where: Clark County Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver.

■ Information: http://www.clark.wa.gov/bocc

Local farmers and food advocates plan to rally before the Clark County council meeting today to encourage councilors to take action they say will plant the seeds to improve local agriculture for generations to come.

Groups including the Clark County Food System Council and Slow Food Southwest Washington are calling for the county council to develop a Transfer of Development Rights pilot program. According to a Facebook events page, about 20 people plan to attend the rally, which is not connected to any items on the council’s meeting agenda.

TDRs allow rural property owners to sell their rights to develop their land to private developers, allowing for higher-density construction while protecting rural and agricultural land without hindering urban growth.

“If you’re going to have open space, you’re going to have more density someplace else,” said Gordy Euler, deputy director of community planning. “You can’t have one without the other and have a successful TDR.”

In King County, a TDR program has protected 141,500 acres of rural and resource land, according to the county’s website.

Though Clark County has had the ability to launch TDRs since 1994, the county has never actively explored its options for offering the program, Euler said. The options are contained in the county Comprehensive Growth Management Plan.

Garrett Hoyt, chair of the Food Systems Council and co-owner with his wife of Five Sprouts Farm in Battle Ground, is among the supporters for a TDR system. Allowing rural landowners and farmers to sell their development rights will help protect their properties from urban growth, he said.

“We’re trying to grow local community and local economy,” Hoyt said.

Warren Neth, director of Slow Food Southwest Washington and a member of the Food System Council, said he’s concerned that farmers’ voices are not being heard as the county develops its Comprehensive Growth Management Plan update.

The proposed Alternative Four, which will de-designate 6,500 acres of already developed agricultural and forest land, may hurt farming in Clark County, he said.

“This is an opportunity to show support for local farms during this comprehensive plan update period,” Neth said.

The rally will begin at 5 p.m. in front of the Clark County Public Service Center at 1300 Franklin St. The council meeting begins at 6 p.m.