The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Town of Taylor rightly has a long way to go

 

September 27, 2018



Elochoman Valley residents were surprised this weekend by an announcement that the new owners of the Strueby Farm plan to start a farming cooperative and build a Renaissance style village there.

Word spread; neighbors began studying the project website, townoftaylor.com, and concerns began to mount.

Residents brought those concerns to the county board of commissioners Tuesday--noise, increased traffic, environmental impacts, and potentially unsavory activities reminiscent of Rajneeshpuram, the Oregon town/commune of devotees of the religious leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

As described on its website, the future Town of Taylor will be a co-op community of businesses with the theme of living in the 1500's. The town will be open year round for visitors, renaissance fairs, and other attractions, including Tudor style two-story shops and residences. Members of the co-op will live in apartments above the shops and farm a portion of the farm. Planned opening is in the year 2020.

County Building Inspector/Planner David Hicks reported he had gone over the permitting process with the new owner. They reviewed the process and permits and codes that would be involved. The process will analyze everything from environmental to traffic impacts.

Commissioners said they would watch the project closely.

Stay tuned: Staff writer has an appointment to meet the farm's new owners, so we should be able to introduce them to our readers next week.

Residents wanted to know if zoning or land use regulations might be available to stop the project.

The answer is that there are few beyond meeting codes and permitting requirements.

The county's comprehensive land use plan dates from the 1980's; commissioners sidetracked an update in the early 2000's because they wanted to edit the wordy document.

As for zoning, the county has none and is, as Commissioner Blair Brady likes to say, user friendly. Commissioners pride themselves on protecting private property rights.

So as Commissioner Mike Backman said, if a developer meets the requirements, they can do whatever they want on their land.

Backman suggested there needs to be communication, and that the proposal and its merits be considered respectfully in a controlled forum.

And as for commissioners getting involved in the permitting process at the start, that's wrong.

The process calls for application in the building department, consideration of merits of the application, review, if necessary by the planning commission, and finally a recommendation and, if applicable, a public hearing, with the county commission finally considering the project's merits based on the record presented to them.

 

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