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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, July 15, 2016
Maya Buhler, Assistant Planner-Resource Stewardship Dept. at BuhlerM@co.thurston.wa.us or (360) 754-3355 x5578

Public Hearing on Applications for Thurston County Open Space Program
Public invited to learn about and weigh in on properties being considered for tax breaks.

OLYMPIA - Thurston County's Board of Commissioners will accept public comment on Tuesday, July 26 at 3 p.m. regarding nine applications being considered for the County's 2016 Open Space Tax Program.

The program is a tax incentive for property owners who voluntarily keep land in an 'open space' state. The program extends property tax reductions to land being used as wildlife habitat or where public access for historic or conservation easements are proposed.

Meeting Details-

WHAT: Public Hearing-2016 Open Space Applications

WHEN: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 3:00 p.m.

WHERE: County Courthouse Building One, Room 280 at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW in Olympia, 98502

Written comments may be submitted in lieu of testimony at the hearing. Written comments can be emailed to Maya Buhler, Assistant Planner, at BuhlerM@co.thurston.wa.us, or mailed to Thurston County Resource Stewardship Department, Long Range Planning, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia, WA 98502. Written comments must be received by 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. The original legal notice was published June 30, 2016 (#6558) and can be viewed at: http://www.legalnotice.org/pl/theolympian/.

List of Applicants

Nine applications were submitted for consideration during the 2016 Open Space Tax Program application process. All of these properties were classified in Open Space-Farm and Agriculture by the Thurston County Assessor's Office, but no longer meet the income criteria to qualify for the Assessor's program. They may, however, qualify for Resource Stewardship's Open Space Open Space program. This year's applicants include:
  • Bruce and Joyce Aldrich for parcel 22635320205Kismet Lane SE
  • Kenneth D. and Alice F. Ames for parcels 22615210200 and 22610340300Bald Hill Rd. SE
  • Roger and Sara Beekman for parcel 21602410100129th Lane SE
  • Mel and Kathryn Dofredo for parcel 22607110200Vail Rd. SE near Yelm
  • Anna and Fred Howerton for parcel 22635320204In southeast Thurston County on Kismet Lane
  • Paul and Robin Keeslar for parcel 23628410000Peissner Rd. SE, north of Fossil Rock
  • Todd and Carrie Meyer for parcel 23508310200O'Toole Rd. SE, south of Clear Lake
  • Mary Belle Rice for parcels 22618420000 and 22618320100Martinson Rd. SE
  • Richard and Cecilia Talcott for parcels 14626130403 and 14626131000Hunter Rd. SW

The complete applications are available for review by request at the Thurston County Permit Assistance Center in Building One of the Thurston County Courthouse.

Detailed Background-This hearing is for nine applications in one of the four Open Space taxation programs operated by Thurston County. Both the Assessor's Office and Resource Stewardship operate Open Space Tax Programs under RCW 84.34. The Resource Stewardship program is also governed by the County's Open Space Tax Program guidelines, most recently updated by Thurston County Resolution 13279. A property tax reduction results from open space classification because the land is valued at a percentage of market value based on a Public Benefit Rating System.

The Assessor's Office manages two open space classifications: Designated Forest Land, and Farm and Agriculture. Resource Stewardship also manages two classifications: Open Space Timber Land and Open Space Open Space, which covers a variety of open space resources. This year's applications all fall under the Open Space Open Space category. The Board of County Commissioners is the legislative authority to approve applications for Open Space classification.

The Assessor's Office performs regular audits of properties in its programs to ensure that only those properties eligible for enrollment continue to receive the tax benefit. Typically, this means ensuring that the property owner is engaged in commercial agricultural production. Properties no longer meeting the eligibility requirements may apply to be reclassed into the Resource Stewardship program without having to pay back taxes, provided that the property continues to be managed in a manner that would allow it to return to agricultural production. Applications for open space classification may also come to Resource Stewardship from properties that are not presently under any current use classification. This year, all nine applications are those seeking to be reclassed from the Assessor's program.

Public Benefit Rating System
Tax reductions for Open space-Open space applications are calculated based on reviewing the property's current use and features-or "priority resources"-under the Public Benefit Rating System. This system gives point values to a variety of resources or designations, such as wildlife habitat, historic value, or previous classification under the Assessor's Open Space program. Properties also receive points if public access is proposed or if a historic or conservation easement is in place on the property. The total number of points awarded to priority resources on a given application will determine the amount of tax reduction available for a property.

Learn more about the county's Open Space Tax Program.http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/planning/open_space/open_space_home.htm



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3