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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 21, 2012
Andrew Deffobis, Associate Planner, 360-754-3355, ext 5467

June 23 Hearing on Proposed Changes to the Critical Areas Ordinance

OLYMPIA -- The Thurston County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on Saturday, June 23 to get input from citizens on proposed changes to the Critical Areas Ordinance, or CAO.

Thurston county commissioners are in the process of a comprehensive review and update of the CAO, the first major update since the ordinance was adopted in 1994. The commissioners initiated the comprehensive review process back in 2010, which included public comment and hearings held by the County Planning Commission where people testified on the draft proposal. The Planning Commission's recommendations were sent to the Board of County Commissioners in May, who are now reviewing the recommendations and considering additional changes.

The Public Hearing will be at the following time and location:

  • Date: Saturday, June 23, 2012
  • Time:Doors open and sign-in to give comments begins at 9 a.m.; Hearing begins at 10 a.m.
  • Location:In Room 129 at the Thurston County Courthouse Complex, Building 2, 2000 Lakeridge Dr SW, Olympia, WA 98502


    The Washington State Growth Management Act requires that all jurisdictions identify and protect five types of critical areas, including:

    • Wetlands
    • Frequently flooded areas
    • Geologically hazardous areas
    • Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, and
    • Critical aquifer recharge areas.

      In this comprehensive review and update of the CAO, buffers and wetland regulations are being amended to comply with changes to state and federal law since the ordinance was first adopted in 1994. While the wetland buffer range will remain 50-300 feet, proposed changes include a move away from the current approach towards a more tailored, flexible buffer calculation and permitting process.

      The Board of County Commissioners is not considering any moratorium on critical area applications, and there are no new restrictions proposed on existing agricultural uses.

      The county commissioners' goal is to consider and ultimately adopt an ordinance which brings the county into compliance with state regulations, protects critical areas and recognizes the needs of property owners.

      The public is invited to participate in informed discussion, and testimony will be accepted at Saturday's hearing. For those unable to attend the hearing to testify, written comments will be accepted up to the close of the public hearing on Saturday. Written comments can be emailed to Andrew Deffobis, Associate Planner at deffoba@co.thurston.wa.us, or mailed to Thurston County Planning Department, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia, WA 98502.

      For more information on the update to the County's Critical Areas Ordinance, please go to: http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/planning/critical_areas/criticalareas_home.htm.



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3