Clallam Okays long-debated land-use law
Critical Areas Ordinance passed, 2-1

by Roger Harnack , Peninsula Daily News

Clallam County, WA - 6/26/01 - Clallam County commissioners approved a revised Critical Areas Ordinance on Tuesday, June 26, 2001, wrapping up debate over regulations scrapped by the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board.

                     Commissioners voted 2-1, Republican Mike Chapman of Port Angeles voting no, to approve the ordinance governing stream buffer zones.

                     “If this local ordinance is passed, we’ll be abrogating our rights to an unelected board appointed by Gov. Locke,” Chapman said.  “I’m not sure this is in our best interest.”

Chapman said he did not think the county should knowingly kow-tow to a non-elected board unfamiliar with Clallam County.

                     Commissioners Mike Doherty, D-Port Angeles, disagreed.

“Tough decision”

                     “If we don’t make the tough decision at the local level, some other government will,” Doherty said.

                     Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, also supported the ordinance.

                     “Is it perfect?  Certainly not.  Is it manageable?  Just barely,” Tharinger said.  “Is it legally defensible?  I believe it is.”

                     Commissioners have previously been criticized by both property rights activists and environmentalists over the Critical Areas Ordinance.

Property rights activists said the rules go too far in restricting activity on private land.  Environmentalists have said the regulations do not go far enough in protecting streamside habitat.

The changes are the result of the Hearings Management Board’s 1999 decision to kick back streamside development regulations to commissioners.

Buffer zones

At issue were buffers for streams, particularly Type 5 waterways.

A Type 5 stream is defined as less than 2-feet wide and 500-feet long.

In its decision, the hearings board applauded the county for the bulk of its law, but ruled it “failed to use the best available science” when reducing buffer widths for some streams.

Buffer zones, scaled for Type 1 through Type 5 waters, are required between commercial or residential developments and aquatic habitat.  Buffer zones limit or restrict development near streams.

Type 1 waters are the highest use areas for fish, wildlife or humans.

 from Peninsula Daily News, June 26, 2001.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref.]

Back to Current Edition Citizen Review Archive LINKS Search This Site