The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a slate of zoning code changes for some types of agricultural land while backing off any limits on vacation rentals on other farming properties. Agricultural processing facilities now will be permitted where they previously were prohibited in a mixed-use zoning called agriculture and residential, or AR.
Facing some vocal opposition and a hearing before Sonoma County supervisors, a Marin County land management firm has agreed to conduct a full environmental review of its plans for a ranch near the mouth of the Petaluma River. The project, which would elevate farmland near the bay, is a potential windfall for the company headed by Marin investor Skip Berg, which is paid to dispose of the soil that is dredged from the bay each year to maintain shipping channels.
New rules and zoning changes for agricultural land in Sonoma County drew a packed audience Tuesday at the county Board of Supervisors, which put off a vote on most of the changes after hearing nearly two hours of public comment. See what supporters and critics had to say about the plan.
UPDATE 6:10 PM: Egg producers and a key animal rights group Thursday announced a historic agreement to seek national legislation that would nearly double the space now provided for most laying hens. It comes three years after California voters passed an initiative that sets guidelines on the treatment of hens.
Extensive new and updated rules for agricultural land in Sonoma County drew a packed audience Thursday at the county Planning Commission and dozens of speakers from across the political spectrum. Some small-farm operators criticized new limits on commercial activities while real estate interests took aim at a proposed phase-out of ag-land vacation rentals. Others praised a change that would make the education and work-related visits known as farm stays more feasible.
Under a program endorsed Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, more county land — including parts of parks, open space parcels and vacant lots in residential areas — will be opened to community gardeners, small commercial farmers and ranchers. “If we want to have a sustainable, healthy community, then we have to start with the food people eat,” Supervisor Valerie Brown says.
The county is considering new rules for land zoned and protected for agriculture, drawing fire from landowners concerned about increasing government restrictions on their property. One group of rules would more strictly define the types of properties and activities qualifying for enrollment in the Williamson Act, which offers landowners tax breaks in exchange for maintaining agriculture and open space land. Other rules would limit some commercial uses and restrict building sizes on ag land.