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About the 2006 Critical Areas Ordinance Update

December 23, 2008
The Board of County Commissioners adopted revisions to the Critical Areas Ordinance . This included changes to Skagit County Code 14.04, 14.16, 14.18 and 14.24. The effective date of these changes is February 1, 2009.

November 5, 2008
The Planning Commission has finished their review of the draft CAO and it will be presented to the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday November 25, 2008. It will be on their agenda for discussion and possible action on Tuesday, December 9, 2008.

Copies of all documents are available at Planning & Development Services, 1700 East College Way in Mount Vernon.

August 28, 2008

The Planning Commission completed deliberations on the draft CAO on June 26th. Staff will be meeting with them again to discuss the draft Recorded Motion which outlines their recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC). Once approved by the Planning Commission, the Recorded Motion will be given to the BoCC for review and possible action. The meeting with the Planning Commission will be held in the Commissioner's Hearing Room at 1800 Continental Place at 6pm, Tuesday September 2nd.

Background Information

The Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) requires cities and counties to protect critical areas within their jurisdiction to preserve the natural environment and protect public health and safety. Skagit County's Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) was adopted in response to this mandate in 1996. In 2002, the GMA was amended to require jurisdictions to update their comprehensive land use plans and development regulations including CAO's every 7 years. The State mandated deadline for Skagit County to complete the update is December 1, 2006.

Jurisdictions are required to use the "best available science" (BAS) in developing and updating policies and regulations to protect the functions and values of critical areas. In addition, special consideration is required to be given to conservation or protection measures necessary to preserve or enhance anadromous fish populations.

Objectives of the CAO Update

1. Fair and Inclusive Process - Throughout the update process, Skagit County Planning and Development Services will be working with a Board of Skagit County Commissioner appointed Citizen Advisory Committee; hosting public open houses, meetings and hearings; and posting new information on the County website.

2. Policy Integration - Objectives of the process are to update and streamline these regulations; eliminate overlaps, inconsistencies and gaps; integrate information from additional resources including other regulatory and policy documents.

3. Compliance with State Guidelines - The update must comply with the Washington State GMA.

General Process for updating the CAO

  • Use BAS in designating and protecting critical areas
  • Evaluate and update existing policies and regulations
  • Evaluate the classification and designation of critical areas
  • Evaluate the development review process pertaining to critical areas
  • Review the CAO for consistency with other policy and regulatory documents
  • Provide opportunities for public involvement throughout the update and adoption process

Ways to be Involved
Document Review: Review and comment on draft documents that are linked on this website.

Attend Public Events: Public meetings and hearings will be listed on this webpage and noticed in the Skagit Valley Herald.

Links to Online Documents:

Draft Code Changes
SCC 14.24 "Clean Version"
SCC 14.24 "Strike-thru/underline Version"
SCC 14.04
SCC 14.16.860
SCC 14.18.310

SEPA Documentation
SEPA Threshold Determination
SEPA Checklist
Notice of Availability

Best Available Science Documentation
Best Available Science - Wetlands/Fish & Wildlife
Best Available Science - Geologic hazards
Best Available Science - Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas

Additional Documents
Staff Report
Revisions Tables: FWHCA Revision Table, Wetland Revision Table
Code Update Fact Sheets
Useful Web Links

Links to Online Documents:
Skagit County Unified Development Code (Title 14)
Critical Areas Ordinance (Skagit County Code 14.24 pdf)
Skagit County Comprehensive Plan

For More Information
More information on the CAO Update will be posted here when available.
Contact: Betsy Stevenson at 360.416.1320