Chapter 16.24
PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION OF FARMLANDS AND OPEN SPACE

Sections:

16.24.010    Findings and declaration of purpose.

16.24.020    Definitions.

16.24.030    Authorization.

16.24.040    Priority of acquisition.

16.24.050    Criteria for selection within same priority.

16.24.060    Selection committee.

16.24.070    Selection process.

16.24.080    Duration and effect of acquired interests.

16.24.090    Records.

16.24.100    Related costs.

16.24.110    Supplemental funds.

16.24.120    City purpose.

16.24.130    Farmland and open space acquisition fund.

16.24.140    Appropriation of funds.

16.24.010 Findings and declaration of purpose.

The city council finds that:

A. The city is a desirable place to live and visit because of the natural beauty of its open space, including farmlands.

B. Land suitable for farming is an irreplaceable natural resource. When such land is converted to housing, an important community resource is permanently lost to the citizens of the city.

C. Despite the value of farms and farmers to the community, increasing land values threaten to eliminate farming as a way of life.

D. The acquisition by the city of voluntarily offered interests in farmlands and open space within the city, as provided in this chapter, will permit these lands to remain in farmland and open space uses and provide long-term protection for the public interests which are served by farmlands and open space.

E. The acquisition of development rights in farmlands and open space as provided in this chapter is a public purpose. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.020 Definitions.

A. “Administrator” means the official or body nominated by the mayor and appointed by the city council to administer this chapter.

B. “Agricultural rights” means an interest in and the right to use and possess land for purposes and activities related to horticultural, viticultural, floricultural, dairy, apiary, vegetable, animal product, berry, grain, hay, straw, turf, seed, Christmas tree, livestock, and other agricultural and open space uses.

C. “Development rights” means an interest in and the right to use and subdivide land for any and all residential, commercial and industrial purposes and activities which are not incidental to agricultural and open space uses.

D. “Eligible land” means farmland and open space land which is eligible to be acquired under this chapter.

E. “Farmland” means:

1. “Agricultural land” as defined in BIMC 16.20.020;

2. Land which is open space land, but has been used as agricultural land as defined in BIMC 16.20.020;

3. Land which is primarily devoted to the raising, breeding or production of animals or plants, but does not meet the definition of “agricultural land” in BIMC 16.20.020; or

4. Open space land which is found by the selection committee to be suitable for use as farmland.

F. “Full ownership” means fee simple ownership.

G. “Governmental agency” means the United States or any agency thereof, the state of Washington or any agency thereof, or any county, city or municipal corporation.

H. “Open space land” means “open space” as defined in BIMC 16.20.020 and “open space use” means any of the uses provided in such definition.

I. Repealed by Ord. 2003-22.

J. “Selection committee” means the committee formed pursuant to BIMC 16.24.050 to advise the city council in the selection of eligible lands for purchase of development rights.

K. “Value of development rights” means the difference between the fair market value of full ownership of the land (excluding the buildings thereon) and the fair market value of the agricultural rights to the land. (Ord. 2003-22 § 26, 2003: Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.030 Authorization.

A. The city is authorized to acquire the entire development rights for any farmland and open space land described and prioritized in BIMC 16.24.040. Such acquisition may be accomplished by purchase, gift, grant, bequest, devise, covenant or contract, but only at a price which is equal to or less than the appraised value as determined in this chapter. Funds shall be used to acquire such property interests only upon application of the owner and in a strictly voluntary manner.

B. If the owner so elects, the administrator is authorized to pay the purchase price in a lump-sum single payment at time of closing, or to enter into contracts for installment payments against the purchase price.

C. The administrator is further authorized to contract with other governmental agencies or nonprofit corporations as defined by RCW 84.34.250 to participate jointly in the acquisition of development rights in eligible lands on such terms as shall be approved by the city council consistent with the purposes and procedures of this chapter.

D. If the city passes an ordinance authorizing the transfer of development rights, any development rights acquired under this chapter shall be available for transfer pursuant to the provisions of such ordinance. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.040 Priority of acquisition.

Development rights shall be purchased in sequential order of the priorities listed below:

A. Farmlands that the owner must sell because of the owner’s age or infirmity or because of economic pressure;

B. Other farmlands;

C. Open space land. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.050 Criteria for selection within same priority.

If funds are not adequate in any selection round to purchase all eligible lands of equal priority for which valid offers have been received by the city, the following criteria shall be considered in determining which offers to accept within a priority group:

A. An offer which is below appraisal shall be favored over an offer which is at appraisal.

B. Agricultural land as defined in BIMC 16.20.020 shall be favored over other eligible lands.

Other criteria may also be considered. The weight to be given to each criterion shall be determined finally by the city council for each parcel of property and such good faith determination shall be conclusive. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.060 Selection committee.

A. A seven-member selection committee shall be appointed within 90 days following the effective date of this chapter. The selection committee shall advise the city council in the selection of eligible lands offered for acquisition by their owners. Members shall be nominated by the mayor and approved by the city council.

B. The selection committee shall consist of two members, one who shall have at least five years’ experience in the operation and management of commercial farms, and one who shall have farmed on Bainbridge Island for at least 10 years prior to the date of appointment; two members, each of whom shall have at least five years experience in the management of either a construction or land development or real estate business; and three members who shall be lay citizens. The selection committee shall have at least one member from each ward of the city.

C. Members shall serve three-year terms, except that the initial term of three members shall be two years and of four members shall be three years. They may be removed by the city council only for good cause shown and may be reappointed to successive terms. They shall not be compensated for their services, but shall be reimbursed for expenses actually incurred in the performance of their duties. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.070 Selection process.

Within six months of the appointment of the original selection committee, and continuing annually or at other intervals as determined by motion of the city council, the administrator shall conduct a voluntary property selection process (“selection round”) as follows:

A. In the first selection round, all properties in the first priority shall be eligible for purchase; if no properties in the first priority are available for purchase, properties in the second priority shall be eligible for purchase; and if no properties in the second priority are available for purchase, properties in the third priority shall be eligible for purchase. In subsequent selection rounds, all properties in any priority shall be eligible for purchase. In all selection rounds, properties of a higher priority shall be purchased with available funds before properties of a lower priority.

B. The administrator shall begin each selection round by giving notice in one newspaper of general circulation in the city. The notice shall describe the properties eligible for purchase in that selection round and the procedure to be followed in the selection process, including an estimated time schedule for the steps in the process, and shall invite the owners of such properties to submit applications.

C. Upon closing of the application period, the administrator shall review each application to determine the eligibility and priority classification of each property interest and verify ownership by title search.

D. For those applications which meet the requirements of subsection C of this section, the administrator shall select an M.A.I. appraiser to prepare an appraisal of the value of development rights, which shall consist of an appraisal of the fair market value of full ownership of the land (excluding buildings thereon), and an appraisal of the fair market value of agricultural rights only.

E. Appraisals shall be in writing and shall be furnished to the respective owners for review. The city or the owners may bring alleged errors of fact in any appraisal to the attention of the appraiser, who may correct the appraisal. If an owner disagrees with the appraisal, the owner may, within the time allowed on the selection schedule, request the preparation of another appraisal at the owner’s expense. The selection committee shall appoint the review appraiser or appraisers in the same manner as the original appraiser or appraisers were appointed by the administrator. The final appraisal shall be the average of the original appraisal and the additional appraisal.

F. The administrator may discuss terms and conditions of sale and information on the effect of the sale with owners prior to the submission of written offers.

G. Sealed, firm written offers by all applicants shall be submitted on forms provided by the city. The offers shall be opened by the administrator on a day certain.

H. The administrator shall review all offers and make recommendations to the selection committee. The selection committee shall review all offers and the recommendations of the administrator and make recommendations to the city council. Upon receiving the recommendations of the selection committee, the city council shall take final action on the recommendations. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.080 Duration and effect of acquired interests.

Except as provided otherwise in any transfer of development rights ordinance, (1) development rights acquired pursuant to this chapter shall be held in trust by the city for the benefit of its citizens in perpetuity and (2) no changes in land use or development ordinances of the city shall affect or modify the development rights acquired under this chapter. Except as found necessary by the city council to convey public road and utility easements, the city shall not sell, lease or convey any interest in land which it shall acquire under this chapter. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.090 Records.

The city clerk is authorized and directed to keep a separate system of records for documents relating to development rights. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.100 Related costs.

The costs of appraisal, engineering, surveying, planning, financial, legal and other services lawfully incurred in acquiring eligible lands shall be paid from the funds authorized to carry out this chapter, unless provided otherwise by the city council. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.110 Supplemental funds.

Supplemental or matching funds from other governmental agencies or private sources may become available to pay all or a portion of the cost of acquiring development rights. The administrator is authorized to utilize those funds to purchase development rights in eligible lands or to supplement the funds authorized to carry out this chapter, in the manner provided by this chapter and in accordance with the applicable laws or terms governing the grant. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.120 City purpose.

The city council finds and declares that the use of city funds to pay the acquisition and related costs of acquiring development rights in eligible lands, or of participating with other government agencies in the acquisition of such development rights, will promote the health, welfare, benefit and safety of the people of the city and is a capital purpose. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.130 Farmland and open space acquisition fund.

Any funds for carrying out this chapter shall be deposited in a farmland and open space acquisition fund to be created by subsequent ordinance in the office of the city’s director of finance and shall be used for purposes that are consistent with this chapter. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)

16.24.140 Appropriation of funds.

Until initial funds for carrying out this chapter have been appropriated by subsequent ordinance, or except as authorized by the city council, no funds shall be expended under this chapter and the administrator shall only be authorized to conduct selection rounds through the submittal of applications. (Ord. 92-14 § 1, 1992)