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Greenbank Farm conservation easement includes park and ride

Pat Powell, executive director of the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, Michael Stansbury, president of the Greenbank Farm Management Group, and Laura Blankenship, commissioner for the Port of Coupeville, pore over the maps showing possibilities of a conservation easement for the Greenbank Farm. Officials hope to have the details for the easement hashed out by the end of the year. The Board of Island County Commissioners approved a Conservation Futures Fund award for an easement on the publicly owned farm. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Pat Powell, executive director of the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, Michael Stansbury, president of the Greenbank Farm Management Group, and Laura Blankenship, commissioner for the Port of Coupeville, pore over the maps showing possibilities of a conservation easement for the Greenbank Farm. Officials hope to have the details for the easement hashed out by the end of the year. The Board of Island County Commissioners approved a Conservation Futures Fund award for an easement on the publicly owned farm.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

A stretch of land at the Greenbank Farm being eyed for a conservation easement could someday include a park and ride lot.

The Port of Coupeville is moving forward with work to place an added layer of protection at the public farm, but needs to make sure room is made for the park and ride lot, which is part of the zoning at the farm and something the county wanted included in the conservation easement.

The area targeted is a horizontal bar of land adjacent to the south side of Wonn Road between Highway 20 and North Bluff Road.

Pat Powell, executive director for the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, which is helping the port develop the conservation easement, said the land in question could lose all of its development rights, except for the potential of a new park and ride lot.

It would ultimately be up to an entity such as Island Transit or Department of Transportation whether to move forward with a lot at the Greenbank Farm.

Island County approved a Conservation Futures Fund award last year for a conservation easement on the Greenbank Farm. That easement would pay up to $400,000 that would be dispersed incrementally over eight years.

Powell attended Monday’s commissioners’ meeting to present initial ideas for the farm’s conservation easement. The targeted land being considered for inclusion in the conservation easement consists of tracts of commercial land on either side of Wonn Road and north of the Jim Davis house.

In addition to the possible park and ride lot, a one-acre piece of land in the middle of an agriculture parcel will be excluded from the easement.

Marshal Bronson, president of the board of commissioners for the Port of Coupeville, said that Island County Conservation Futures funds can’t be used to pay for the land on which the new solar arrays are located. He said the port was able to get the arrays permitted because its elevated nature allows for the ground to still be used as pasture land.

The commissioners allocated $1,000 for the appraiser to start developing the scope of the appraisal.

The three-member board also selected two options to be considered as part of the appraisal. The first option eliminates commercial development rights on several parts of the farm’s commercial land, while the second does pretty much the same thing only designating the farm’s playground and tractor barn as commercial land.

Port Commissioner Laura Blankenship spoke against having the land that houses the tractor barn moved into agriculture land. But she was outvoted by Bronson and Benye Weber.

Bronson added that a new tractor barn could be placed elsewhere on the farm should the land be needed for a new building.

Should the commissioners decide to switch some agriculture land into commercial land, it would have to go through the county to change the zoning, which is a process that takes a year or more to complete.

Powell said the appraisal, which is needed to come up with a dollar amount for the conservation easement, will take place in August and she’ll have more information during the next Port meeting.

 

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