By Stan Matthews
County Interim Internet Technology Manager
At its regular meeting on March 12, the San Juan County Council voted to conduct a public hearing to consider moving the effective date of the Critical Areas Ordinance updates from May 1, 2013 to December 1, 2013 or a later date. The hearing will be held on Tuesday April 9, 2013.
Consideration of the change came, in part, due to the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board’s (WGMHB) scheduling of hearings on appeals to the Ordinance updates for June 24th, 25th, 26th in the Council Hearing Room in Friday Harbor. The WGMHB has stated its intent to issue its final decision and order by September 9, 2013.
At the March 12 Council meeting, Council members discussed the status of critical areas ordinance implementation and approved a work plan, developed by staff, to offer additional community education, and improve mapping resources, wetland identification services, and other web based tools.
“We are encouraged to report that many aspects of the implementation are well underway and the staff is developing a variety of tools and resources for property owners to use in making decisions on developing and managing their property,” said Council Member Patty Miller. “The Council and staff are committed to ensuring a quality implementation of these important new regulations and we are working closely together to put in place resources for our citizens.”
During its discussion, several Council members expressed concern over the uncertainty about property development regulations during the time the Hearings Board is completing its review of the ordinance. Additional concerns regarding staff’s ability to deliver a quality implementation of the new regulations during the same time frame that they will be needed to fulfill the WGMHB appeals process requirements, were discussed. A decision to reconsider to the May 1st implementation date would set an implementation date after the final ruling from the WGMHB has been received.
The Council is asking the public to weigh in on the issue during, or in the days before the hearing on April 9th.