Thanks to all the people who asked the County for stronger protections for farmland! Close to one hundred supporters made their positions known with email posts and postcards. Way to stand up for agriculture! If you didn’t have a chance to comment earlier, there is still time. The County is still accepting comments on their website until September 1st, the day of the next public meeting on the proposed framework.
Despite a resounding public response favoring stronger farmland protections, the framework CAPS presented to the Planning Board on July 21st was almost identical to the one released on June 2, 2015. Why bother getting involved, you ask? Because you care about saving this valuable, irreplaceable resource. So do we. Let’s overwhelm them with comments. Let’s remind County government of its obligation to represent the people they serve. CFAC and our allies have asked the County to include the following in the new regulations:
- Protect all farm soil, including soils of local importance – The new language only protects farmland situated on soils classified as having prime or state importance, not on local soils. Removing local soils would mean 62% of current farmland in Missoula County would no longer be protected.
- Provide developers with a suite of mitigation options – Requiring developers to pay a fee when a subdivision would significantly impact agriculture is a good option in some instances. But it should not be the only option. Let’s create incentives for conserving ag land on the proposed site in a way that incorporates farms and gardens into the subdivision, or preserve farmland on another comparable site. Farmland cannot be saved with money alone. Once farmland disappears, it cannot be replaced.
- Tie the mitigation fees to the appraised value of the land– The proposed mitigation fee for developers proposing to subdivide farmland has not been established, but CAPS is proposing to have a flat fee, one that will be the same for all parcels regardless of where the land is located and what it is being sold for. They estimate the fee will be between $1000 and $3000 per acre. With land in the Target Range neighborhood currently selling for approximately $100,000 an acre, the proposed fee amounts to a land give-away.
If you care about local food, farms and our future, join CFAC now by sending your comments today. GO HERE to tell the County Commissioners the regulation framework does not do enough to conserve our vital farmland. Then plan to attend the public hearing on September 1st. Your voice matters, now more than ever.
Here is a link to the Missoula County Community and Planning Services site:
Here is a link to the latest framework:
The Community Food & Agriculture Coalition is a member-driven organization committed to developing our local food and farm system. We need your support to continue this important work. Please consider joining CFAC today. Your membership dues start at just $40 and will help ensure that local food and sustainable farms remain a part of our community for the next generation!
Join CFAC today! www.missoulacfac.org