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6/3/05 Draft AG and Timber Policies

6/3/05 Draft AG and Timber Policies

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Published by Rose
6/3/05 Planning Commission Draft AG and Timber Policies for the General Plan Update
6/3/05 Planning Commission Draft AG and Timber Policies for the General Plan Update

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Published by: Rose on Nov 25, 2007
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For Planning Commission Meeting of June 16, 2005DATE: June 3, 2005TO: Humboldt County Planning CommissionFROM: Kirk Girard, Director of Community Development ServicesSUBJECT: Draft Agriculture and Timber Policies for the General Plan UpdatePrepared by: ________________________ Tom Hofweber, Supervising Planner Martha Spencer, Senior Planner 
That the Planning Commission:
Receive a staff report and open the workshop to public comments.
The Board directed staff to prepare policy options that would meet the recommendations provided inthe Sketch Plan Alternatives Summary Report and provide an opportunity for the public to reviewand comment on these proposed policies. The primary task for this phase is to introduce the public tothe proposed agriculture and timber policies, offer a forum for discussion on the issues and “finetune” these policy options for ultimate inclusion into the draft General Plan.
The Planning Division of the Community Development Services released the
Sketch Plan Alternatives
in early June of 2004 in order to provide generalized depictions of proposed landuse development scenarios for the General Plan Update process. The report also included policyoptions to be considered with these sketch plans alternatives that could be “mixed and matched” inorder to get the best fit for future development in the County. These sketch plans and policy optionswere developed based upon Board of Supervisor direction received at the conclusion of the CriticalChoices phase, technical background studies and discussions with city and service district staff.
The County hosted numerous workshops throughout the summer to gather comments on the proposeddevelopment scenarios and policy options. The protection of resource lands and open space and adesire for infill-oriented affordable housing consistently received significant public support. For example, 76% of the respondents at the six open public meetings held across the County in Junefavored the focused development pattern of Sketch Plan 3, which offered the highest amount of  protection for resource lands. The importance of these agriculture and timber lands to the County’sculture, quality of life, environment and economy has been repeatedly stressed throughout theGeneral Plan Update process.The Board report summarizing last summer’s workshops contained two findings specificallyemphasizing the need to develop a plan that ensured long term protection of resource lands and openspace. These findings included:
“Sketch Plan Key Findings:1) The proposed project must ensure efficient use of water and sewer services andfocus development in those areas and discourage low density residential conversion of resource lands and open space.7) The proposed project must contain long-term agriculture and timber landprotections including increased restrictions on rural subdivisions and patent parceldevelopment.”
The Board report also provided direction to staff when developing General Plan policies for the protection of resource lands and open space. These included:Forest Resource Policy Options
Additional policies to ensure adjacent uses are compatible with industrialtimber operations
A policy statement to support for long term continued timber production
A policy statement to protect beneficial uses of sensitive watersheds andcritical water supply areas
A policy to address urban interface / timber issues in urban fringe areas.Agricultural Resource Policy Options
A policy that the County take a proactive approach to conservation of working resource lands landscapes.
A policy to ensure lot line adjustments and other development are consistentwith the General Plan densities notwithstanding underlying land units.
A policy to allow flexibility for additional development at original homesiteareas (similar to RCC standards) for large ranches.Open Space Policy Options
A policy that supports establishment of greenbelts and agricultural buffers toinsure separation of existing communities.
A policy directing the County to take a proactive approach to conservation of open space.
A policy that establishes an open space classification system to serve as aframework for land use planning and environmental resource management programs.
Proposed Resource Lands Policy Revisions
In keeping with the Board’s directive to provide clearer policies and maximum protection for resource lands, staff has proposed new land use designations designed specifically at protecting the premier resource lands within the county. For large contiguous ranching operations, staff has proposed a “Ranchlands” designation that provides incentives to keep these operations intact. For farming operations in prime agricultural soils, additional policy has been included to preventresidential subdivision of these areas. An “Industrial Timber” designation has been proposed toreflect the current management operations for the industrial timber owners that prevents residentialsubdivisions of these areas. Following is a more detailed description of these proposals.Draft Timber PoliciesThe proposed “Industrial Timber” designation removes housing as a use by right and clearly sets aminimum parcel size at 160 acres. Housing in these areas would be by conditional use permit. Theanticipated density of such housing would not exceed 1 unit per 600, with the general plan density of 0 units indicating that we do not expect to meet any of the County’s housing need within these areas.The forest resource policies provide for recognition of a density credit of 1 unit per 160 acres for those areas being withdrawn from timber production and converting to other uses by requiringclustering and locating development near existing residential uses.Another important aspect of the forest resources policies is the identification of the wildland-urbaninterface areas with the inclusion of development standards (Policy T7). This policy would providesupport for continued timber production in the wildland-urban interface and guidance for landmanagement opportunities in order to avoid land use conflicts.Draft Agricultural PoliciesThe agricultural policies also include a new “Ranchlands” designation designed to offer additional protection of the premier grazing lands in the County. The density range of the Ranchlandsdesignation is one unit per 600 acres. This designation also contains a withdrawal policy similar tothe Industrial Timberlands with a density credit of one unit per 160 acres.Discussions to date with many in the agricultural community have raised some concerns of diminution of land value by utilizing the Ranchlands designation. Staff has received input that theminimum agricultural parcel size should remain at 160 acres based upon what was historically agreedupon. Staff has provided a withdrawal policy that is set at one unit per 160 acres to retain the currentland values. The withdrawal policy also provides that the new parcels be clustered and located alongexisting roads. These standards are expected to protect the viability of the ranchlands, while retainingthe land value “credit” of 1 unit per 160 acres. This should better protect the agricultural capabilitiesof these ranches, rather than the current scattered patterns of 160 acre subdivisions. This type of scattered large-lot land pattern diminishes the capacity of the land and is extremely difficult and

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