It's been nearly five months since I last wrote to you about the struggles we have faced at Farm Shed Wines & Brew as both a small business and a farm.
Ultimately, what I want for this blog to be more of a resource than a story. As I mentioned prior, I am opening up this blog to any and all questions regarding my farm and small business. My direct contact info is at the end of this post so do feel free to reach out!
I had left off about zoning, land uses and the commercial building permit that is required on Agriculture Resource Land. To clarify, there are NO allowed commercial uses on ARL land, but Pierce County is requiring one nonetheless.
This is when I mentioned: It is almost as though Pierce County no longer recognizes agriculture.
And, this is where I am going to pick up the book and continue giving you more information.
In Pierce County the average amount of time to process a commercial building permit is 88 days, you can find this and more information on Pierce County's goals and progress at https://open.piercecountywa.gov/
At the time, I had no idea what length of time it would take for our building permit to go through. All that I knew, is that is was not going fast enough and I was not getting any customer service or help concerning our zoning designation.
So we began building without a permit. Some great things that happened after this:
1. We passed our Liquor Board inspection and received our Washington State brewers license
(a license that Pierce County and the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department both have to sign off on)
2. We entered into a contract to purchase the property at Farm Shed - YES we were building it without owning it!
3. We were red tagged by the acting Building Official who was also the Pierce County Fire Marshall. The team at Pierce County Fire is quite possibly the BEST group of Pierce County employees that I have worked with.
Several Fire employees worked with us on many levels, and were able to convey our frustration regarding agriculture zoning to other employees within the County building. This was the largest amount of progress we had seen thus far.
Although being red tagged was not great, the people were. When you find these employees that ultimately want your project to be successful, work with them on any and every level.
The most frustrating piece is that the most helpful person or team may not be on the forefront of your project or permitting process, but let's think about it in this regard - If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
Bottomline, I know this more than ever, obstacles are put in our way to see if what we want is worth fighting for.