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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Contact:
Jennifer Hayes, Senior Planner, 360-786-5477

County Residents Encouraged to Plan Zoning Changes


OLYMPIA – Thurston County Planners are working on state-mandated revisions to rural zoning and are seeking the public's help in making the changes.  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 1 per 20.   In response to the ruling, the "Rural Rezoning" project was initiated to create a variety of densities in the unincorporated areas of the county. 

Senior Planner Jennifer Hayes says no specific areas of the county have yet been proposed for rezoning.  "While this is a big project on a fast timeline, we are really starting at ground level with no preconceived notions.  We are hoping area residents will come forward and help decide what kinds of rural lands should be considered for rezoning in their local area and countywide."  The county must consider lowering densities in some areas that are currently zoned at 1 unit per 5 acres that are not designated as long-term resources lands. To help people understand rezoning options, the County has completed a preliminary analysis that looks at large, undeveloped parcels that could, if rezoned, provide multiple public benefits, such as protecting drinking water resources, buffering working farms and forest lands, and preserving unique habitat areas. This analysis can be viewed on the County's web site at http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/permitting/GMA/rural-rezoning.htm.

The public is invited to attend one of two Open Houses and/or one of 4 workshops on the rezoning issue.  Hayes says the first two meetings will be informational sessions with opportunities for questions and answers with staff, while those attending a workshop in their area will be asked to work in small groups to develop and prioritize rezone areas.

OPEN HOUSES-

  • 6:30 – 8:30 PM, Thursday, December 8th, Rainier Sportsman's Club, 404 Alaska St. , Rainier
  • 6:30 – 8:30 PM, Wednesday, December 14th, Expo Center, Thurston County Fairgrounds, 3054 Carpenter Rd. SE, Lacey.

WORKSHOPS-

  • 6:30 – 9:00 PM, Monday, January 9th, Griffin Fire Station. (NW county)
  • 6:30 – 9:00 PM, Thursday, January 12th, Nisqually Middle School . (NE county)
  • 6:30 – 9:00 PM, Tuesday, January 17th, Rochester High School . (SW county)
  • 6:30 – 9:00 PM, Thursday, January 19th, Rainier Sportsman's Club. (SE county)

The current schedule calls for the Thurston County Commissioners to establish rezone 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 in the fall.

For more information on the Rural Rezoning project, county residents can visit the county's web site at http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/permitting/GMA/index.htm or they can call Jennifer Hayes at 360-786-5477.

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3