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"What price growth...?"

Nisqually Valley farmland will be off-limits to development

By Jennifer 0lson, The Olympian

THURSTON COUNTY - After years of discussion, Thurston County is finally ready to preserve the rural character of the Nisqually Valley

County officials and a group of valley farmers have reached an agreement to keep 943 acres of prime farmland off-limits to developers for-ever

Valley farmer Herman Schools said the group was satisfied with the county's offer. He's glad he could help preserve the image of the valley

"I really believe in this," he said. "That's what we wanted, what was best for the valley"

The county will purchase the development rights to the land, which ensures the rolling acres can only be used for agriculture. The six property owners will receive $2,241,122, about $2,400 per acre.

In July the county made offers to seven farmers, but one with a 7-acre parcel opted not to sell his development rights.

County planner Steven Morrison has been involved in the project since 1989 when the idea first surfaced.

"This is cool," he said. "Imagine being without the valley in the future."

Commissioners are expected to approve the purchase during Monday's corn-mission meeting. Closing should take place within 30 days, Morrison said.

The preservation program uses money set aside from property taxes.

The farmland owners will receive approximately the difference between the current agricultural value and the p0tential development value of the. land

Some farmers negotiated so their families could eventually build additional homes on the parcels. The county accommodated them.

Just because the county will hold the development rights to the property doesn't mean the acres become public property Morrison said.

Jennifer Olson covers Thurston County for The Olympian. She can be reached at 754-5427.

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