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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Contact:
Jennifer Hayes, Senior Planner, 360-786-5477 for Rural Rezoning Project
Nancy Pritchett, Associate Planner, 360-754-3355x6474 for LAMIRD Project

Second  County   Workshop On Rural Rezoning to be held Thursday Night


OLYMPIA – The second of four scheduled workshops on rural planning will be held Thursday night at Nisqually Middle School in Lacey and is aimed at residents and property owners of the northeast area of Thurston County, including the outskirts of Lacey, the Boston Harbor and Johnson Point areas, Nisqually Valley, and East Olympia. However, any interested citizen is invited to attend. 

About 120 people participated in the first workshop, held last night at the Griffin Fire Station, Thurston County . Senior Planner Jennifer Hayes says, "The turnout was huge. Unfortunately we had to turn away several dozen folks due to the capacity of the room. We hope people who were turned away will attend an upcoming workshop and/or e-mail us their input. We want everyone who wants to participate to be included." The people who did participate in the first workshop, including residents from the Steamboat Island area as well as citizens from Tenino, Maytown, and other areas throughout the county, worked in small groups with a facilitator to identify a wide range of ideas for the types of lands to be considered for rezoning.  Hayes says, "Ideas generated by the participants ranged from rezoning lands with a lot of wetlands and other sensitive areas, to taking suggestions for voluntary rezoning with incentives. One group was able to draw specific areas they thought should be considered on the maps we provided. All of the ideas were just the types of information we need so that we can be responsive to citizens when we come up with the proposed study areas." People also expressed concerns about the equity of rezoning, and how property values would be affected.

Planners are continuing to work on state-mandated revisions to rural zoning. In July, the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board ruled 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 "Limited Areas of More Intensive Rural Development" (LAMIRDSs) if they meet specific criteria; otherwise they must be rezoned.

The County held two open houses on the project in December 2005. Questions and answers from those open houses will be posted on the Thurston County GMA Compliance website (http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/permitting/GMA/) soon.

Input from this month's workshops will be used to develop rezone study area proposals with the Planning Commission, which will in turn be presented to the Board of County Commissioners in February.  Also at the workshops, neighbors and interested parties will be able to discuss LAMIRDs.

Hayes says the workshops include an information session followed by facilitated small group work.  Anyone interested may attend the workshop, although people from the local area are especially encouraged to attend.

NORTHEAST AREA WORKSHOP

  • 6:30 – 9:00 PM, Thursday, January 12th, Nisqually Middle School Commons, 8100 Steilacoom Road S.E., Lacey, WA

The current project schedule calls for the Thurston County Commissioners to consider public comment and then establish rezone study areas in February.  A draft zoning ordinance would be written in the spring and public hearings regarding a final ordinance would be held next fall.

For more information on the Rural Rezoning or LAMIRD projects, county residents can visit the county's web site at http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/permitting/GMA/.  Those interested may also call Jennifer Hayes at 360-786-5477 for information about the Rural Rezoning project or Nancy Pritchett at 360-754-3355x6474 for information about the LAMIRD project.

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3