Shelton County will make decision about zoning to comply with GMA


Shelton-Mason County Journal - 2/28/02 - The Mason County commissioners will make a decision on yet another piece of the growth-management puzzle next Tuesday.

In this case they are considering three types of zoning districts in rural
areas to replace a problematical matrix of permitted uses in the county's
comprehensive plan and development regulations.

The announcement came following a public hearing on the new zoning districts
and other plan revisions held at the Mason County Commission meeting Tuesday

This will be the county's third attempt to write land-use regulations which
comply with the Growth Management Act. Twice the Western Washington Growth
Management Hearings Board ruled the plan and regulations invalid, in an
order issued December 15, 2000 and again on March 1, 2001.

The hearings board order identified five issues the county must resolve,
Allan Borden, long-range planner, told the commissioners in his staff

Besides the matrix of permitted uses, the order directed the county to
assess the effects of the 13 previously undesignated "limited areas of more
intense rural development," known as LAMIRDs; to bring the plan's open-space
and recreation-area map into compliance; to write regulations for the Allyn
urban growth area (UGA); and to delineate residential densities on a final

Turning to the matrix, Borden told the board the table of permitted uses
includes only resource lands, agricultural resource lands and urban growth
areas. The regulations for rural lands are now included in a new section of
development regulations which establishes rural development districts which
Borden called "the equivalent of zoning."

The zoning districts include five types of rural residential districts and
three types of rural commercial districts as well as industrial, tourist,
natural resource and planned resort districts.

Residential densities in rural lands include one dwelling unit per 2.5
acres, one per 5, one per 10 and one per 20. Those densities, previously
designated in the plan, "were found no longer invalid in a December 2000
order," he reported.

"The proposed (nonresidential) designations are generally based upon the
existing nature of the land use and the appropriate district category is
noted at the parcel location," Borden explained.

Included in the limited areas of more intense rural development are three
rural activity centers (Union, Taylor Towne and Hoodsport), nine hamlets
(Lilliwaup, Potlatch, Matlock, Dayton, Bayshore, Deer Creek, Spencer Lake,
Grapeview and Tahuya), and 14 isolated commercial and industrial areas,
Borden said.

"Mason County has carefully designated the logical outer boundaries of each
LAMIRD, as of July 1990, to limit expansion or sprawling of these land uses
into each of the local areas," Borden continued.

To bring its open space and recreation map into compliance, Borden said the
county is proposing three new comprehensive plan policies "which would
address the use of railroad right-of-ways for trail corridors, an open-space
corridor between Belfair and Allyn for potential trail systems and the
development of two properties in Mason County ownership as community parks
or open space."

He added, "What we're trying to do is indicate to the hearings board we're
trying to move on from general open space to more specific trails and parks
in the county."

Borden said both Allyn and Belfair are "stand-alone UGAs" and as such would
have the same general development regulations. There is now a specific
statement that binding site plans are required in both Allyn and Belfair, he

The county has prepared a set of five maps showing 1) future land use
illustrating rural area development densities, 2) the rural activity
centers, 3) the hamlets, 4) western isolated commercial-industrial areas and
5) eastern isolated commercial-industrial areas, Borden said.

Bob Fink, planning manager, reported on changes based on recommendations
from the Mason County Planning Commission and public testimony at a February
22 hearing.

"Among the comments were that more specific standards should be developed
consistent with existing local, state and federal regulations" to control
impacts of new industry in rural areas, Fink said. "It should be noted that
some impacts which can be public nuisances do not have measurable standards
even with modern science."

Fink continued, "The draft regulations have been modified to include the
adopted standards when available and to create measurable standards when

Language was also changed to clarify that buildings for resource based
industries can be larger than 10,000 square feet, if approved by a special
use permit, he added.

Fink said other changes made to clarify the regulations include setting a
4,500-square-foot building size limit in rural tourist districts, extending
the limit on the time recreational vehicles to be left in RV parks, allowing
employee housing in rural tourist and master planned resort zones only as an
accessory use, changing the setback requirements for rural industrial and
natural resource activities to allow unobstructed access to railroad sites
or airports and adopting criteria for rezoning.

Because the department and the planning commission have made a number of
suggestions for changes to the proposal, Fink requested a week's delay and
said a complete text of the comprehensive plan and regulations with all the
changes would be available to the public by 5 p.m. Wednesday (yesterday).

The commissioners will continue to accept written comment on the proposed
changes until 5 p.m. March 4 with action scheduled for 9:45 a.m. March 5.

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