New classification for program
StoryMetropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn has introduced legislation that aims at reducing the fees for business owners using their properties to support agricultural uses.
“Locally sourced food is something many residents of King County value very dearly,” said Dunn. “If the businesses these farms rely on for goods and services are forced out of the area because of high land costs and regulatory burdens, the viability of these farms is threatened.”
The proposed ordinance would amend King County Code to define a new “agriculture-supportive” property classification for Surface Water Management program fees.
King County’s Surface Water Management (SWM) program was established to address surface and storm water runoff problems. The program assesses fees to property owners based on their properties’ runoff impacts, typically determined by the size of the property and the percentage of the property that is covered in impervious surfaces. However, the program also identifies a number of mitigating factors that have been determined to reduce the impacts of runoff, and provides fee discounts for properties with these mitigating factors.
“This legislation makes much needed changes to SWM fees,” said Ron Mariotti, owner of the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion. “As a small businessman in agriculture, it has been difficult at best to work within the current SWM fee structure and I appreciate the work Councilmember Reagan Dunn has done to make the fee structure fairer for Agricultural businesses in King County.”
The proposed ordinance would define a new mitigating factor, that of the “agriculture-supportive” property. An agriculture-supportive property would be defined as a property within the Agricultural Production District that provides direct services to surrounding agricultural uses and thereby allows agricultural properties to remain in active agricultural use and retain a high proportion of acres in pervious surfaces.
As a result of this mitigating factor, properties defined as agriculture-supportive would be charged the flat rate SWM fee for very lightly developed land (defined as properties with ten percent or less impervious surfaces) rather than a SWM fee calculated based on their actual percentage of impervious surface.