Who decides on permits and laws?
One of the major areas the Alliance is looking at is zoning issues. Many communities want, or maybe even need, to engage in more than the one activity their land is zoned for, such as farming.
After much experience and discussion with county planning department personnel, it has been determined that most zoning issues can be resolved through an SUP. However, SUPs are not always easy to get or even apply for. Therefore we plan on pooling our resources in this area to help the process, set precedents and share approved SUPs to use as templates for future applications.
This blog category will be an ongoing discussion of progress made in this area, as well as new ideas, etc.
Graham Ellis, from the Seaview Performing Arts Center for Education (SPACE), offered other communities the opportunity to add to his application any activities they are interested in applying for at a future date.
The idea is to set a precedent with the approval of his application, which should include as many common community activities as possible, and therefore make it much easier to obtain equal or similar SUPs.
Graham has been in ongoing communications with planning department personal to help assure success with the application process.
You can download a copy of the existing SPACE SUP here.
You can post any suggestions you would like for consideration in the Comments forum on this page. If you are not already registered on our blog, you can do so here.
Scott: Even though the Planning Department may not agree and recommends denial of your Special Permit the ultimate decision belongs to the Planning Commission. Community support, sound arguments and comparative examples will help in getting their approval. Keep in mind that the mood of the Planning Commission can vary from one term to the next because members change. They might approve you to have 10 cabins, but the Building Dept is what approves how you can do the building and what to make them out of.
Special Permits are applied for to the planning department. You ask for what you want, then when you get permission you have to deal with all the other county departments, like health, building, police, etc. That is where we really need to have policy changes.
Do all kinds of non-ag activities need Special Permits? Are non-ag activities covered by existing legislation or do we need to do more? Cultural activities, workshops, education, gallery, etc.
Scott recommends: Most any activity can be proposed in a special permit. We can make special permit applications easier by learning to do them ourselves rather than pay someone else to help us. We should be all working together to make the permits in a pattern and establish precedents.
Ag tourism laws: you can get an application from the planning department. Requirements are: you need to be a farm that makes at least $10,000 per year in agricultural income, which can include any prepared food you sell. You can’t make any more in tourism activities than you do in farm income, because your farming needs to be your main activities.
Exemptions to zoning laws as was done in New Mexico seem less likely to be passed, because they are too loose and vague. Scott supports us clearly identifying what problems we are having, and seeing if we have any way to work with existing laws to do what we want to do. If we can work with existing laws, as in special use permits, then we do not need a new law.
We may want an amendment to existing laws, to allow for Multi purpose zoning areas in which we can do sustainable farming and community.
Call them Sustainable Multi Use Zones: Use of 50% or more of locally sourced, renewable resources in farming, building and recycling.