Rick Bannan / email@example.com
Woodland has moved forward to change its zoning code so that the agricultural nature of some of the properties introduced within the city limits can be retained.
At its April 4 meeting, the Woodland City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance by a 4-0 vote to establish an agricultural zoning designation in the town. The ordinance is Woodland’s latest attempt to address the impacts the city’s long-term planning may have on farmland in the Woodland Bottoms, located south of the city limits.
The city’s planning commission began reviewing the code change in November, according to the ordinance, and eventually unanimously approved a recommendation to add the agricultural zoning designation on March 17.
The code change came about because the city is considering potentially expanding its urban growth area, which the city considered a few years ago. Beginning in late 2018, the city began analyzing changes to its overall plan, which could have brought more than 600 acres into the urban growth area. This land included the Woodland Bottoms area.
City Council ultimately did not approve adding land in the Woodland Bottoms to the Urban Growth Area, according to the comprehensive plan adopted in 2019. Placement in the Growth Area allows for future annexation to the city as outlined in the state’s growth plan. Management Act.
The recommended code is largely based on zoning already in place in Cowlitz County. As the planning commission considered the code change, the Port of Woodland raised concerns about potential impacts with respect to employee housing, pheasant hunting, and cannabis production and processing.
The port was particularly concerned about the impact that employee housing in the agricultural designation would have on water and sewer services. In a staff report, Woodland Community Development concluded that the city’s utilities “must be considered” for any impact to septic systems or well water systems that may be overloaded by agricultural uses if a property is annexed.
The noted port Woodland Bottoms has traditionally been the site of pheasant hunting, which under current municipal code would likely be prohibited. The planning commission recommended making recreational hunting a “special use” permitted in agricultural zoning.
The Community Development Department noted that the existing and proposed code would not allow the production and processing of marijuana in agricultural zoning.
The board only briefly discussed the code change at the April 4 meeting. Councilors Jennifer Rowland and Monte Smith were absent.
Woodland Community Development Director Travis Goddard said the lack of agricultural designation is a point of resistance that has come up during discussions of Woodland Bottoms and the city’s overall plan. In previous discussions, the setback to growth area expansion has largely focused on diminishing the rural character of the Woodland Bottoms.
Having these uses in the code serves as “an additional tool…to protect owners who are concerned about premature development,” he said.