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Port of Coupeville seeks money to help pay for Greenbank Farm
The Port of Coupeville leaders are hoping to protect Greenbank Farm from any possible development in the future while getting help to pay off a cumbersome mortgage at the same time.
The plan is to sell a conservation easement to Island County in return for $400,000 in Conservation Futures Funds.
The conservation easement would add another layer of protection on the open space land, above its current zoning designations, while allowing the port, which owns the farm, to develop the commercial space that comprises the farm buildings.
Michael Stansbury, president of the Greenbank Farm Management Group, said the idea of a conservation easement grows out of the original movement in 1997 that took the farm off the market. He said that the current zoning for the farmland and open space doesn’t provide a permanent protection to keep the property from being developed.
“There’s always a temptation of developers to acquire it,” Stansbury said of the Greenbank Farm.
The port is asking for $400,000 in the county’s Conservation Futures Funds, which funds projects that protect ecologically-sensitive areas and improve public access. The Conservation Futures is funded by a 6.25 cent per $1,000 assessed property value tax.
Executive Director Jim Patton said the funds would help offset the $800,000 in bonds payments remaining on the farm. The Port of Coupeville pays around $100,000 a year in bond payments. The bond payments have drained the port’s operating reserves in recent years and officials are having trouble paying for needed maintenance at the Greenbank Farm and the Coupeville Wharf.
Patton said that if the port received an award for the conservation easement, the money would be distributed to the port in $50,000 payments over the next eight years. Patton said the port is seeking about one-sixth of the money the county is expected to have available, which leaves money available for other projects.
Conservation Futures has benefited the farm in the past. More than $2 million of the funds were used in 1997 to bring the Greenbank Farm into public ownership.
The Port of Coupeville has to have its application to Island County by March 1. Once the application is received, two volunteer groups — the technical advisory group and community advisory board — weigh the merits of the applications before making recommendations to the Island County commissioners. The commissioners aren’t expected to award funds until the fall.