County ordered to make changes to Critical Areas Ordinance

The county council has six months to adopt revisions to the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO). The 109 page Final Determination and Order (FDO) received yesterday from the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board calls for changes in order to protect critical areas in the county.


"Overall, this is a positive ruling for the county," said Prosecuting Attorney Randall K. Gaylord. "The Growth Board upheld the County's extraordinary public participation process, the method of identifying and designating critical areas, and the site-specific approach to calculating buffer sizes."

"The Growth Board did find fault with buffer sizes that don't remove enough pollutants, and so there are definitely some decisions that the County Council will need to wrestle with," said Gaylord.

Gaylord noted that there were 90 issues before the Growth Board that were raised by Friends of the San Juans, Common Sense Alliance, P.J. Taggares Company, William Wright and San Juan Builders Association.Only ten issues identified by the Friends of the San Juans resulted in a ruling against the County's Critical Area Ordinances.

"I am pleased that the Growth Board was very specific in describing what needs to be fixed on several rather narrow issues," added Gaylord. He said he expected the challengers to be active participants as the County Council moves forward.

The Growth Board decision will require adoption of revisions to the CAO Ordinances by March 5, 2014, with a hearing on compliance with GMA on April 24, 2014.

"These dates work well because the existing ordinances will become effective on March 1, 2014."

A copy of the Growth Management Hearings Board decision is available for download on the county's website.    or by contacting Elizabeth Halsey at the Prosecutor’s Office at 360-378-4101 or

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