OLYMPIA – A proposal to rezone some rural lands in Thurston County is being released next week for public comment. The proposal is based on input received at public open houses, workshops, and forums held throughout Thurston County from December 2005 through January 2006. More than 800 people attended six meetings held across the county to gather public priorities for rural zoning changes. In addition, more than 170 people attended the most recent public forum on the issue, held on June 19th and about 50 people added their comments through the Thurston County web site. .
Planner Diana Smith says the public discussion was instrumental in shaping the proposal. "Gathering public input from county residents has been a high priority throughout this project. Public comment has really helped to design the recommendations for rezoning and other changes that were mandated by the State Growth Management Hearings Board." The Board ruled a year ago that zoning in the rural parts of Thurston County did not provide enough variety of densities, which in other jurisdictions includes areas such as one housing unit per 10 acres or one per 20. The Hearings Board also asked the planners to review rural areas that are denser than one housing unit per five acres and define them as LAMIRDs (Limited Areas of More Intensive Residential Development) if they meet specific criteria defined by state law; otherwise they must be rezoned. Further, the Hearings Board ruled that several criteria for designating long-term agriculture lands must be revised.
The rural rezone proposal will be available for public review by July 14th. It can be viewed on line by visiting the county web site at http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/index.asp. Copies of the proposal can also be obtained on July 14 at the Permit Assistance Center , Building One at the Thurston County Courthouse.
The Thurston County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the rural rezone plan on August 3rd from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (An open house starts at 5:45 p.m.) The hearing will be held at the Worthington Center at St. Martin 's University, 5300 Pacific Ave. S.E. , Lacey, 98503. Once the proposal is released, written public comment will be accepted through the close of the public hearing. Written comment should be addressed to the Thurston County Planning Commission, c/o Long Range Planning, Thurston County Development Services, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW , Olympia , WA 98502 .