Greenbank Farm easement could be done by year’s end

Leaders for the Port of Coupeville hope another layer of environmental protection for the Greenbank Farm will soon be complete.

During a port commissioners’ meeting last week, Pat Powell, executive director for the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, outlined the work that has to be done on the conservation easement for it to be finished by the end of December.

The Port of Coupeville, which owns the Greenbank Farm, wants to place a  conservation easement on the recreational, agricultural and environmentally sensitive lands, which would be in addition to the current zoning that regulates how the land is used. It would also allow development to continue in the commercially zoned property at the farm.

The conservation easement is the requirement for the port to receive up to $400,000 worth of Conservation Futures funds awarded by the Board of Island County Commissioners.

Powell said she will meet with commissioners from the port and the county individually to come up with a proposal acceptable to both sides. Then an appraisal will take place to determine the value of the development rights the port will surrender through the easement.

The port and county haven’t been able to come to an agreement on how to move forward with the conservation easement. One sticking point appears to the county requirement for a park and ride lot at the Greenbank Farm. Port officials argue that a park and ride lot shouldn’t be included in a document that concerns property outside the farm’s commercial area.

In a letter submitted to the Port of Coupeville, Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said the conservation easement should contain two alternatives.

The first would mirror the existing farm zoning, but eliminate a specific amount of square footage on the south side of Wonn Road, according to the letter.

The second alternate would allow an overflow parking area on the Wonn Road property while removing all other development rights. Then the development rights given up would be moved over to property on the north side of Wonn Road.

Price Johnson said in the letter that both options would retain the right to construct a park and ride lot. She stressed that it is up to the Port of Coupeville to approve such a lot.

A previous draft conservation easement was developed last year; however, Powell said she has to start writing a new easement from scratch. She said “too many hands” have been involved in such a complicated document for the previous draft to be used.

An appraisal has to take place to put a value on the development rights before an easement can be accomplished.


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