Benton County's rural lands zoning open house in Kennewick had a steady stream of people from West Richland to Finley wanting to take a look Tuesday.
Planning department staff spoke with about 40 visitors during the first hour at the Benton PUD auditorium, said Michael Shuttleworth, planning manager.
It was the second in a series of open houses staged to explain why several new zoning categories for rural lands will make future land use consistent with the county's general plan as required by the state's Growth Management Act.
Valerie Smith, an associate planner, said six rural planning areas are the focus of the zoning update.
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They are Paterson, Plymouth, Finley, Prosser-Whitstran, Benton City-Kiona, and the outlying areas of West Richland and Richland.
The purpose is to identify allowed uses in four types of lands: 20-acre parcels; five-acre parcels; one-acre parcels; and a new category called community center-residential.
Smith said many landowners in the six rural lands areas have been aware of ongoing discussions for years about proposed land uses and zoning.
"This is giving people more certainty as to what they can do with their land," she said.
"A lot of the people I saw were already familiar with the process," Smith added.
About 25 showed up at last week's open house held in Prosser.
"I think people want to know how this can affect their properties. For example, one person said he wanted to know how many animals he could have," Shuttleworth said.
Among those who came early Tuesday were Larry and Patty McCulloch with three neighbors from rural West Richland.
"I was concerned about setbacks," said Patty, who lives in an area that would have five-acre zoning. She said there were no surprises, and that most of what she wanted to know was found at the county's website for the rural lands zoning review process.
The McCullochs said it was no problem to stop in at the open house because Tuesday was their regular night out with neighbors for tacos.
"This was our pre-dinner event," Patty said.
Shuttleworth said the next step is to take the proposal to the county planning commission Feb. 8 and then to a workshop for county commissioners Feb. 23.
Commissioners could approve the proposed zoning changes for the four land categories March 14, with it taking effect Aug. 1.
A similar, but separate review process on rural lands zoning review with changes will occur for urban growth lands, including residential, commercial, industrial, public reserve and Hanford areas.