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State board OK's county growth plan changes

"Island County moved a few steps closer to a completed Comprehensive Plan last week. But the job's not quite over.The Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board ruled March 6 that the county had complied with several parts of a June order to correct portions of its 20-year growth plan. In all, the growth board has now given the county the go-ahead on 15 of the 23 June orders. Here's some of what they said last week.JUNE ORDER: Rewrite the provision for rezone from Rural Forest or Rural Agriculture zoning to Rural zone.ACTION: County has deleted a rezone provision that allowed Rural Forest and Rural Agriculture zoned land to fairly easily rezone to a Rural designation which would have permitted greater development.RESULT: Board said the county is now in compliance on just this part of a much larger question of rural density.JUNE ORDER: Limit the overall size and intensity of development allowed inPlanned Residential Developments to ensure compatibility with rural character and preclude the future need for urban services.ACTION: County revised its Rural zone base density from one-home-per-five-acres to one-home-per-ten-acres, and set up up new density bonuses and new requirements calling for at least half the land in a PRD to be set aside in open space. RESULT: Board said the county has satisfied their June order. JUNE ORDER: Finish producing the Best Management Practices manual and enforce the requirement to use BMPs. Also, provide monitoring to ensure the effectiveness and implementation of BMPs.ACTION: County has adopted a Best Management Practices manual which outlines how land including or bordering critical areas, such as streams and wetlands, can be used and developed. RESULT: With the exception of the agricultural BMPs still under development, the board said the county is now in compliance with their order and with the Growth management Act. JUNE ORDER: Adopt criteria for designation of species and habitats of local importance, adopt management plans for great blue heron and osprey and appropriately deal with nominations already submitted by WEAN and Audubon.ACTION: County now has rules in place covering how plants, animals and their habitats can be designated for local protection. It also designated the great blue heron as a locally important species and established new regulations for any development within 300 feet of a nesting site.RESULT: The board said the county had complied with their June order.JUNE ORDER: Delete regulations dealing with reduction of shoreline setbacks.ACTION: County did not delete the regulations which permit shoreline lots sandwiched between already-built lots or those on the end of an existing development to use less than the 75-foot buffer required between new development and the shore. The county said it could not justify telling a landowner that he could not build in the same way as his neighbors. WEAN said the 214 lots that would be affected by the buffer reduction represented about 2 1/2 miles of coastline and the possibility of another 2 1/2 miles of bulkheads and other shoreline armoring which could harm near-shore habitat.RESULT: The growth board agreed with WEAN and ruled that the county is still not in compliance with the Growth Management Act.The board also found the county had complied with their June orders on nine other issues."

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