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County critical area rules plan to debut

A public participation plan has been drafted for Island County’s critical areas ordinance update and is set to go before decision makers today.

The plan will be presented to the Island County Board of Commissioners at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, in the commissioners’ hearing room, 1 N.E. Sixth St. in Coupeville.

The update is for the county’s fish and wildlife habitat conservation area rules, and is in response to legal action and subsequent order by the Growth Management Hearings Board earlier this year.

Critical areas ordinances are state-mandated, comprehensive land-use rules that regulate development in areas considered environmentally sensitive.

They are required by law to be updated periodically with the best available science.

Last December, Island County Planning and Community Development was seven years past its deadline to update the fish and wildlife section of the critical areas ordinance when a South Whidbey-based environmental watchdog group, Whidbey Environmental Action Network, or WEAN, filed a failure to act petition with the hearings board.

The regulator body agreed with WEAN, and in a January ruling gave the county six months to complete the required update.

The county was later granted additional time due to staffing and budget limitations, and, according to the county’s public participation plan, final adoption by the commissioners is scheduled for July 21, 2014.

The public participation plan specifies several methods of informing the public about the update, including public hearings and meetings, workshops, use of the county’s website and an email list.

For more information, visit the planning department’s website at www.islandcounty.net/planning/

 

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