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Conservation easement protects Greenbank Farm

Years of work to add another layer of protection to Greenbank Farm came to fruition last week.

The Board of Island County Commissioners approved a $335,000 conservation easement for the agriculture, recreational and environmentally sensitive land located at the publicly owned farm.

The easement is funded by Conservation Futures Funds awarded by the commissioners in 2011.

Pat Powell, executive director for the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, said the Greenbank Farm is an important part of Whidbey heritage and the easement still provides enough flexibility to keep the farm’s commercial core economically viable.

The Monday approval came as a surprise to leaders of the Port of Coupeville, who said they were expecting the deliberations would continue almost to the end of the year.

The Port of Coupeville owns the Greenbank Farm.

“I’m just really pleased,” port commissioner Benye Weber said of the approved easement. “That’s been one of the reasons why I ran for a second term.”

The Port of Coupeville also agreed to surrender the development rights to seven acres of commercial land located on either side of Wonn Road.  While preventing commercial development on those two rectangular strips of property, an option was written into the easement that allows construction of a park and ride lot.

The conservation easement will be a boon to the Port of Coupeville, which has had to defer maintenance at the Greenbank Farm and the Coupeville Wharf because of revenue shortfalls.

Jim Patton executive director for the Port of Coupeville, said that the easement dollars will be talked about during the commissioners Dec. 12 meeting. He has a list of 10 to 12 potential maintenance items that include replacing the fuel floats and installing an additional restroom at the Coupeville Wharf.

One thing is for sure, the Port won’t be able to pay off its debt on the Farm. Patton said the port is obligated to continue paying more than $100,000 a year.

 

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