Green Bluff residents staked out their differences on Tuesday over a proposal to allow weddings and other events as accessory uses in the small-tract agriculture zone.
Spokane County commissioners took more than an hour of testimony on proposals to put rules around those ventures at the popular area.
The rules would apply to all areas with small-tract agriculture zoning in the county.
Craig Deitz, president of the Green Bluff Direct Marketing Association, said, “We are a business association that’s looking at bringing the public to the bluff.”
He said he hopes any new rules will not be complicated.
Wayne Schettle, a Green Bluff resident, said he doesn’t want to see the prairie overrun with noise and other pollution. He said he favors the Planning Commission’s recommendation to make no changes.
Currently, the zoning code allows for harvest-season events and direct agriculture marketing.
Weddings are being offered on the prairie as an extension of the provision allowing events.
JoAnne Smatlan, owner of High Country Orchard, 8518 E. Green Bluff Road, said growers are hard pressed to make enough money with agriculture production only. She operates one of the event venues.
The addition of weddings will bring more people to the prairie in the summer when outlets could use more customers, she said, noting that she employs 40 people during the season.
Kitty Klitzke, of the environmental group Futurewise, said expanding commercial uses on agricultural resource lands may be illegal under state law.
Roger Whitten, of Deer Park, said converting good farmland to other business uses is “immoral and illegal.” He said event facilities are intrusive and damaging to quality of life for neighbors.
William Jordan, a Green Bluff grower, said, “We generate tourism and education on all of the farms.”
Commissioners said they plan to study their options before making a decision in a debate that has gone on for the past year.