Hey everyone! We're looking at properties in SW Oregon, with zoning of Woodlot Resource and Forest Commercial. While it is (usually) possible to get a "homesite development permit" for these properties, it is complicated and spendy. And then you've got to build to code.
We're looking through the land-use codes, in Josephine and Jackson counties, trying to determine what "outright uses" we can do on these lands (ie no permit required). We foresee utilizing sustainable harvest practices for timber resources for our personal use, and perhaps some resale (if we need to be considered "commercial" for the FC properties), and "temporary" structures (travel trailer, temporary cabins, etc) to house our "lumber crew" (me, hubby, and kids), and our "wood product production" needs (sheds, storage, etc).
Has anyone done this? I am not sure where to start looking for rules or regs about what constitutes "forest practices", etc. Basically, can we purchase the land, and roll on up there with travel trailers and chainsaws, and begin "forest management" according to our own guidelines? Will we be expected to "log" a certain number of trees per year, do we have to sell a certain amount of board-feet, or $$ worth of product for FC versus WR? I can understand most of what the planning codes say, but there's so much they don't say, that leaves me nervous.
We're selling our place, and it looks like we're going to be getting offers this week, and we have a tight budget, but we'll be able to pay cash for something if we're careful. WR not only gives us the most bang for our buck, right now it's about all that's available unless we want to go over $150k, which there is no way we want get anywhere near that.
Anyways, just looking for someone that's been there, done that. The horror stories of trying to get building permits for conventional homes on WR land are abundant. And we have no interest in building a conventional home anyways.
I'd suggest getting land where there are little to no building permits required.... or the ones that are, are minimal. The more regulations, the more money, time, etc. and the less likely you will be able to do things that are "unconventional", like cobb, earthships, underground, rocket mass heaters, composting toilets, etc, etc, etc. If it isn't mainstream, many of the municipalities don't know and refuse to even look at them.
I am not familiar with your state, but I am with a similar program in Maine. Basically it is a tax-shelter program to ensure that forest land stays forest and is used to generate forest products for the economy. How much you can get away with depends on location I suppose. My neighbors, they are in it and get away with some things, but they have 3200 acres of land; with that much land who is going to check all of it out and argue with them. If you live where neighbors complain a lot, or where foresters are death on house lots, then you will inevitably have more problems.
You can get into really hot water with these programs and for good reason. As stated earlier they were designed to keep forest a working forest, and if x-amount of land in a given town or county is enrolled in the program, and those acres are reduced by 60% in their taxes, then the remaining taxpayers have to shoulder the burden. When an individual takes advantage of those tax shelters...even if it a new landowner...since they abusing a program that has already burdened other tax payers for years, some serious fines can result.
As stated earlier it is best to stay away from these kind of land deals.
The best way to describe land ownership is like clutching a bunch of asparagus in a clump from the grocery store. When you buy land certain rights are granted with that land. On my land for instance I have the timber rights, the mineral rights, water rights on another persons land, the right to build, the right to farm, etc. But in a few places I have rights of ways that my grandfather sold off. In that respect one of my asparagus stalks has been plucked out. I cannot deny my neighbor the right to get to his camp. In your case, the asparagus stalks that would be removed would be the right to build and explicit instructions on logging. I am not sure I could live with that. I am sure the price is cheaper to buy the land, or you can repay the taxes that were saved over the last 15 years or so to gain those rights back, but to me it is a huge gamble. There is a simple saying; you cannot fight city hall. It is not a cop out. Do you want to spend a lot of time and money on a Permie type spot only to have the rug pulled out from under you because your idea of skirting the rules does not sync well with the forester?
Here when a piece of land is enrolled in Maine Tree Growth program, and to be in it, you must have a forestry plan in place that is ratified every 10 years. I am a certified American Tree Farm, and registered under the more restrictive Forest Stewardship Council, but I am NOT part of Maine's program that is similar to yours for the reasons stated above. I could...and save 60% on my property taxes, but I just won't do it. Today, with landowners rights being eroded as never before from all fronts, I warn anyone to be wary of putting land into restrictive measures, or buying land in the beginning that has already had some of your rights removed.
While this thread is related to forestry, keep in mind other programs exist too like Forever Farm Programs which are not nearly as innocent as they first sound.
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