One of the largest parcels of undeveloped land left in Marin will be off limits to commercial development for at least the next 10 years following an agreement between Marin County and the Silveira family.
Marin County Counsel Brian Washington announced Tuesday that the day before the county and the Silveiras reached a settlement agreement “whereby the Silveiras will release any claims against the county arising from the 2007 Countywide Plan and will enter into a Williamson Act contract on their San Rafael ranch parcel to preserve their land for agricultural uses for at least 10 years.
“In return for this,” Washington said, “the county will pay approximately $2.6 million in unpaid property taxes and related penalties and interest for their San Rafael ranch property.”
“We appreciate the Silveiras coming to the table to find a win-win solution,” said Supervisor Damon Connolly, who worked on a committee with former supervisor Steve Kinsey to hammer out the agreement.
“It was something I felt was important to get some kind of resolution to,” Connolly said. “The community benefits from at least another 10 years of agricultural use on the property and entering into a Williamson Act contract on the property will allow the Silveiras to pay lower taxes going forward.”
The Williamson Act is a state law that provides relief of property tax to owners of farmland and open space in exchange for a 10-year agreement that the land will not be developed.
“In the meantime, I don’t view my work as being done,” Connolly said. “I would ultimately like to see a permanent conservation or preservation of this land working with the Silveiras and community stakeholders.”
Richard Bowles, the ranchers’ Walnut Creek-based attorney, said, “The Silveiras feel it’s appropriate that they are now back to a situation where they’re being taxed as agricultural property as they were way back in 1974 and should have been all the way along.”
Veteran Marin County Planning Commissioner Don Dickenson said, “I think it is a very positive move. It’s not an acquisition so it’s not a permanent preservation, but it does maintain the status quo for a period of time.”
Barbara Salzman, president of the Marin Audubon Society, said, “I think it is great agreement. It will hopefully lead to some protection for the important resource lands on their property and enables it to stay undeveloped for some time.” See Full Story HERE
Editors Note: Why does everyone think they own the Silveira Ranches and have a right to force development or take away rights from them? It is nearly 100 year old family business which has provided us healthy locally grown food and dairy. They deserve the right to guide their own future, just like you do with your property. The so called "settlement" was the county relinquishing its questionable claim for back taxes that it imposed in violation of the Williamson Act. Of course, the county had unlimited legal resources and the Silveiras had to defend themselves for over 40 years. They are good neighbors and deserve our support.