Growth. Soemthing to think about.

Here are 3 related articles on growth. They are written from the perspective of those who chose a way of life. I hope you find the articles worth reading.

Property owners can no longer protect investment

Letters to the Editor,
The Chronicle, 9/16/2004

To the editor:

Is it just me, or is Lewis County becoming a pretty scary place to live in lately? You just don't know who or what you are going to find in your neighborhood the next time you wake up.

When you purchase a home or property, you usually do this either for an investment with the intent to resell eventually or to live and grow old there, passing it on to your children and grandchildren.

If you want to live and raise a family there, you select the area and neighborhood to reflect and represent your choice of lifestyle. I assume people choosing to live in a rural residential area are cherishing the beauty, peacefulness, privacy, and safety of their surroundings.

You expect this way of life to be protected and preserved for the future. Think again, because you might just find a major industrial development in your back yard, the next time you open your eyes.

Think that could not happen to you? Better look into our county's long-term goals and planning policies in their comprehensive plan. Big changes are on the horizon.

Inexpensive agricultural land is being gobbled up by developers at an alarming rate. Lewis County is a gold mine for these developers, many who come down here from up north, purchase agricultural land for $10,000 per acre or less, have the county rezone it to commercial or industrial and then offer it for a hefty profit to other potential buyers.

This is great for the developers, the county, and the people wanting to sell their land. but what about the rest of us who live adjacent to the development? The county is working together with our small cities, Napavine, Winlock, Vader and who knows who else?

Our state development agency, Community, Trade and Economic Development, is working together with all of these municipalities.

They are all working on one common goal, growth, under the motto, the bigger the better and more dollar signs for all involved.

But who are the ones making all the big money, reaping all the benefits? You and me? Or the developers? And who is paying the price? Because regardless of what we are being told, there is a price to pay. Growth comes at a cost to all of us and if it isn't wisely managed, it will turn this county into another Pierce County. Is this your vision for Lewis County?

If you think this change of the county's comprehensive plan to accommodate a major industrial development (Cardinal Glass) won't affect you, because you don't live in the immediate vicinity, think again.

What if your neighbor decides tomorrow to sell their land to a wealthy developer? Do you believe the county will protect your interest or that of your neighbor?

If you want laws and ordinances that protect everyone, not just the wealthy, attend the county commissioners' public meeting on Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the courthouse. Remind them that they were elected to represent all of us fairly. Or who knows what could be going up in your neighborhood shortly?

Gabriele Morris,

Rural neighbors' complaints prompt temporary restriction


Kim Piotrowski describes Field of Dreams, a 327-acre, 100-lot development near Littlerock, as the "nightmare on Crockett Street."

It's one of Thurston County's largest examples of cluster development, a planning technique that rewards developers for setting aside large chunks of open space for recreation, farming or habitat preservation, in exchange for permission to build more houses than they would otherwise be allowed to in rural parts of the county

But a new county rule, adopted Aug. 2, will not allow new developments like Field of Dreams, according to associate planner Jennifer Hayes.

About 60 homes so far occupy mostly half-acre lots in the development on a hilltop in a rural farming community.

A portion of the 207 acres set aside as a trade-off for extra lot permits once was a large dairy farm, one of 13 addresses on Crockett Street south of 113th Avenue.

"I wanted to live on a dead-end street in the country and know my neighbors. You don't get that feeling anymore," said Piotrowski, who lives down the road from the development.

The former Tumwater Brewery employee said she didn't know 10 years ago, when she bought her 15 acres, that anyone could build more than one house per five acres there. That's how that part of the county is zoned.

The neighborhood has lost its rural charm, said Piotrowski, who keeps horses, donkeys and beef cattle on her land. Traffic on the small county road has increased in amount and speed, and heavy construction equipment rumbles by constantly.

"Ever since they built that place, I've wanted to leave, but my husband won't move," she said. "This isn't the neighborhood I wanted to live in."

Concerns like Piotrowski's are part of what made the county take sudden action six weeks ago to restrict permits for cluster developments, according to Hayes.

The restriction, made in the form of an interim ordinance, will last up to a year and prevents cluster development on parcels the county considers too large or too small.

Under the old regulations, there was no limit on how much land could be developed.

No more than 6 dwellings will now be allowed on any land unit, but large parcels may be split by developers into 20-acre units so each one can get cluster benefits.

Restrictions apply at the other end of the spectrum, too.

Small-property owners took advantage of cluster benefits to get two houses on as few as eight acres. The new ordinance bars cluster development from any property smaller than 20 acres.

People questioned both the intensity and size of the larger cluster developments, which don't feel rural to neighbors, and they questioned the usefulness of the resource lands in the smaller cluster developments, Hayes said.

Before the interim ordinance expires in August, the county will hash out permanent changes to the regulations.

Jennifer Latson covers Thurston County and Tumwater for The Olympian. She can be reached at 360-754-5435 or jlatson@olympia.gannett.com.

Jobs for Rural America

by Michael Hofferber (reprinted with permission of the author)

Rural America is in recession, again. I've heard that news so often, and for so long, that it's become an accepted fact of life: a permanently recessed sub-economy.

That's what we are, in fact -- a sub-economy feeding along the edges of a mighty behemoth. Judged by the standards of the larger economy, those of us outside of the metropolitan population centers are always lagging behind.

And so when the politicians and civic planners come to visit, what they see first is the lack of malls and mills and megaplexes and they conclude, perhaps rightly so, that we are impoverished and lacking and in need of correction.

Good-paying jobs are what's really needed here, they say, and who can argue with that? A state legislator I listened to the other day wants to lure new businesses into rural areas by letting them operate tax-free if they'll create new jobs paying decent wages. Never mind the businesses already employing folks out here, or the self-employed farmers or accountants or farriers; they'll be left paying extra for the services that the new businesses and their employees will demand.

Why does this legislator, and others like him, insist that jobs in rural America have to be imported? Do we not have the resources or the know-how or the willingness to grow our own? And why give tax breaks to large corporations from out of the area rather than to individuals starting up their own businesses here at home? Thomas Jefferson envisioned an America of family farms and self-employed merchants and tradespeople, independent and self-sufficient. Only in rural America has Jefferson's ideal ever come close to being realized.

Outside of the mill towns and mining camps, most rural employment has traditionally been self-made and independently financed kinds of jobs like farming and ranching and small-town retailing. If you work at it, you can make a living cutting firewood or building fences or repairing equipment. Some of us even survive by trimming hair or balancing books or writing columns for newspapers.

These are not the kinds of nine-to-five, time-card-punching jobs that economists like to count and politicians promise to create. Self-employed and self-reliant folks are harder to predict or manipulate. Big industry and great cities inevitably lead to a concentration of power, both economic and governmental, just as Jefferson feared they would. In rural America lies the hope for a true democracy.

Most workers today live in a crowded, highly interdependent cubicles in which they have very little control. Their basic economic independence and security are gone. Most work for someone else and any competition is kept in check by the few companies that dominate each industry.

These are the kinds of jobs you used to leave the farm and move the city for; now they're being recruited to locate in the country as well.

Four dozen clerking jobs at WalMart are no substitute a dozen small town retailers. Don't replace our family farms with factories, our local cafes with fast food franchises, or our entrepreneurs with corporate monopolies.

What we need is better prices for our products, more markets for our services, and more respect for an independent way of life increasingly endangered by a domineering industrial society.

Michael Hofferber is manager of Farmer's Market Online, located at www.FarmersMarketOnline.com, and author of the "Outrider" column on rural life in America. His email address is outrider@webcom.com Farmer's Market Online Box 441, Baker City, OR 97814 http://www.FarmersMarketOnline.com manager@FarmersMarketOnline.com

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