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Land-use laws in the West
Capital Press October 8, 2009

Following is a summary of land-use laws in four key Western states.

Oregon: State law restricts development on private property zoned exclusive farm use or exclusive forest use.

Washington: No state restrictions are in place. Land-use regulations are developed and regulated at the county and city level under some state direction.

Idaho: There are no state restrictions for development on privately owned farm or forest land. County restrictions typically call for 40-acre minimum lot sizes before housing is allowed, but counties regularly relax those restrictions, said John Thompson, public relations director for the Idaho Farm Bureau.

California: The state does not regulate land-use practices except within the framework of the Williamson Act. Under it, farmers who agree to keep land undeveloped for at least 10 years are taxed based on their income-producing capacity as agricultural land. Development is allowed on farms not under Williamson Act contracts provided cities and counties approve. More than half of California's 30 million farm and ranch acres currently are protected under the act.

-- Mitch Lies

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