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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, January 4, 2006
Jennifer Hayes, Senior Planner, 360-786-5477 for Rural Rezoning Project
Nancy Pritchett, Associate Planner, 360-754-3355x6474 for LAMIRD Project

Public Invited to Northwest County Workshop On Rural Rezoning

OLYMPIA – The first of four scheduled workshops on rural planning will be held next week.  Thurston County 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 to provide the public with information on the Hearings Board decision and the options being looked at by County planners. 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. While the open houses provided information to the public, the workshops are intended to involve county residents directly in helping choose potential rezone study areas. Senior Planner Jennifer Hayes says that the purpose of the workshops is to begin to identify both the types of lands people may find most valuable for lower residential densities, and to begin to identify actual areas that are suitable for rezoning.  "We hope the workshops will give folks the opportunity to work hands-on with their neighbors to brainstorm solutions to this zoning challenge. We'll have people work together in small groups to share their ideas and values about rural lands." Input from the 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, as well as the criteria used to determine whether higher density zoning may be kept or whether the area needs to be rezoned to a rural density of no more than one housing unit per five acres.

Hayes says the workshops will 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.


  • 6:30 – 9:00 PM, Monday, January 9th, Griffin Fire Station, 3707 Steamboat Loop NW, Olympia , WA

The current project schedule calls for the Thurston County Commissioners to establish rezone study areas, based on public comment, 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