March 18, 2014 in City

Spokane County weighs Green Bluff zoning change

By The Spokesman-Review
 

New zoning rules designed to allow wedding and event centers on Green Bluff are under consideration by the Spokane County Commission.

The issue is among a range of options commissioners are studying. While several venues at the popular agricultural area already are operating, the county does not have specific zoning regulations pertaining to them.

Some say such event centers will help the small orchards and farms earn revenue and remain financially viable. Others complain the venues will disrupt what tranquility remains in the area, which has became a farm tourism draw for city-dwellers.

The commissioners are considering new rules that would bring event centers into the county zoning code in small-tract agricultural zones of Green Bluff, Orchard Prairie and southwest of Deer Park.

Rules under consideration would require event venues to be operated as an accessory to a primary residence of a property owner; that events be limited to Friday through Sunday; and that hours be limited to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Noise rules would also apply.

In addition, the venues could not take up more than an acre of existing farmland and the farm would have to produce agriculture products worth at least $1,000 a year.

The commissioners are considering the possibility of requiring temporary or conditional use permits for the event venues.

A conditional use permit would cost about $4,500 in fees and related costs.

Currently, the county allows harvest-season events, and many farms on Green Bluff take advantage of those rules. However, those events are more closely related to agricultural production than wedding and social event venues.

Commissioners have not indicated how they might vote.

Commissioner Al French said the soonest that the commissioners would take action is April. A plan to vote on the new rules today was expected to be postponed.

Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn said any new rules need to have a goal of protecting agricultural resources and the community’s opportunity to experience farm life.

“We need to consider how we protect that rural character,” O’Quinn said.


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