Critical Areas Update: What Do the Ordinances Say?

From Ingrid Gabriel, San County Council Clerk

On Tuesday,  December 3, 2012 the San Juan County Council enacted the following ordinance(s):

ORDINANCE No. 26 -2012: Ordinance Regarding General Regulations for Critical Areas. This ordinance completes the review and update of General regulations for critical areas pursuant to RCW 36.70A.130. The ordinance:

  • revises the list of critical area maps and data sources;
  • amends definitions associated with critical areas;
  • clarifies the purpose and applicability of critical areas overlay districts;
  • amends provisions relating to exemptions and reasonable use exceptions from critical areas regulations;
  • establishes a new, optional exception for public agencies and utilities;
  • establishes provisions for mitigation of impacts to critical areas;
  • establishes new provisions for structures, uses and activities that are non-conforming with regard to critical areas regulations;
  • amends the provisions for project permit applications and for uses allowed outright;
  • provides for optional pre-application site visits;
  • revises provisions for discretionary uses (which are evaluated and processed as either a conditional use, or a provisional use depending on the scope and scale of the project).

ORDINANCE No. 27 -2012: Ordinance Regarding Critical Area Regulations for Geologically Hazardous Areas and Frequently Flooded Areas. The ordinancecompletes a review and update of the County’s development regulations regarding Geologically Hazardous and Frequently Flooded Areas pursuant to RCW 36.70A.130.  The ordinance:

  • clarifies the purpose and applicability of the regulations;
  • amends the classification criteria and protection standards for geologically hazardous areas;
  • adds requirements for structural shoreline stabilization measures such as bulkheads and seawalls;
  • amends the project area for and content of geotechnical reports and when geotechnical reports are required.

For Frequently Flooded Areas regulations in San Juan County Code 18.30.130, the ordinance amends the applicability section and the protection standards for frequently flooded areas.

For both types of critical areas, the ordinance also updates and clarifies existing terms and procedures for consistency with the County Code and the County Charter.

ORDINANCE No. 28 -2012:Ordinance Regarding Critical Area Regulations for Wetlands. The ordinance completes the review and update of the County’s critical areas regulations regarding wetlands pursuant to RCW 36.70A.130.  The ordinance generally replaces existing wetland regulations with new regulations and modifies lighting standards near wetlands.

The ordinance:

  • amends provisions describing the applicability of the wetland regulations;
  • address the minimum size of regulated wetlands;
  • classifies wetlands and assigns them water quality-sensitivity and habitat importance-sensitivity ratings;
  • removes the existing prescriptive buffer width protocol and establishes a site-specific procedure for determining required buffer sizes;
  • establishes protection standards including descriptions of activities allowed within wetlands and their buffers;
  • adds reference to the official manual to be used for wetland delineations;
  • establishes requirements associated with the determination of wetland boundaries and with wetland reports;
  • repeals Appendices A (San Juan County Wetlands Rating System), B (Mitigation/Enhancement Plan Contents), and C (Bonding) of SJCC 18.30.150. The ordinance also amends the County’s requirements for exterior lighting and updates terms for consistency with other portions of the code and the charter.

ORDINANCE No. 29 -2012:
Ordinance Regarding the Critical Area Regulations for Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas.The ordinance completes the review and update of the County’s critical areas regulations regarding fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas pursuant to RCW 36.70A.130.  The ordinance generally replaces existing FWHCA regulations with new regulations.  The ordinance:

  • amends provisions describing the applicability of the fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas;
  • identifies and classifies various types of fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas;
  • provides for the use of maps; establishes protection standards including standards for aquatic fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas including streams, lakes over 20 acres in size, certain ponds, and marine shorelines;
  • establishes protection standards applicable to shoreline modifications;
  • establishes protection standards for upland habitats and specific species including habitats and species of local importance;
  • amends the process for nominating species or habitats of local importance.

    The ordinance also updates terms for consistency with other portions of the code and the charter.

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