06/27/2012: "Ag Sales & Farm Stands"
(Planning staff Lee McEnery & Renai Beliveau -screen capture photo)
Should there be a limit on how large a building can be that sells farm produced products? Is it okay to sell products not produced on the farm, or can a farm store or farm “stand” be free to sell any products as long as it is in some way related to farms or farming?
Good questions, and the County Council and County staff has spend hours attempting to come up with good answers as they review and discuss changes to the existing regulations on agriculture sales and related farm recycling issues.
The answer to these and other questions are important, and if the Council gets it wrong, the potential impacts on neighbors and county business could come as a nasty surprise if, as Councilman Rich Peterson pointed out, suddenly a “Big Box” type building is approve for agricultural sales in an area not zoned for commercial sales. Peterson said it would not be something most rural or residential neighbors’ would be happy to have next door.
Councilmember Lovel Pratt agreed the Council needed to be clear on what is allowed in ag sales, and what is not, giving the example that ag sales should not allow retail space that is similar to a retail store in town.
The Council passed a number of motions Tuesday (06-26-12) as they worked through the 3rd and latest DRAFT(.pdf 4815\k file) toward having an acceptable document for an upcoming public hearing.
Whatever the final draft ends up containing, it will require some close scrutiny by the public to insure the intent of allowing ag sales of local farm products from road side stands and buildings does not allow stores to spring up that have more in common with a store in town, than a place where farmers sell their produce and jam, and related farm products.