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Hearings Board Finds Full Compliance

The Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) revisions adopted by the Board of County Commissioners in May 2009 were further challenged by joint appellants. The Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board reviewed the case and issued a decision on July 20, 2009. The Compliance Order finds that Olympic Stewardship Foundation (OSF) failed to prove Jefferson County's CAO was in error and that the County's CAO has achieved compliance with the Growth Management Act. However, the previous Hearings Board Final Decision and Order issued in November 2008, is also being appealed by OSF to the Thurston County Superior Court with an anticipated hearing date in November 2009. Pending results will be reported on this webpage.

BoCC Adopts Amendments to Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO)

The BoCC approved Ordinance #06-0511-09 on May 11, 2009 to comply with a Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board Final Decision and Order, which was issued on November 19, 2009. Jefferson County was required to legislatively bring the Unified Development Code into compliance with the Growth Management Act by May 18, 2009. The amendments to the CAO are intended to clarify what constitutes a high risk channel migration zone (CMZ) and to clarify vegetation removal requirements within a CMZ. The approved ordinance changes code provisions for protecting CMZs within the five following rivers: Big Quilcene River, Little Quilcene River, Dosewallips River, Duckabush River, and the lower Hoh River. The approved ordinance amends Jefferson County Code (JCC) Chapter 18.22, Article V (Geologically Hazardous Areas) and JCC 18.10.030 (C definitions).

CAO Revision for Hearings Board Compliance

The CAO is being revised to comply with the 11/19/08 Final Decision & Order (FDO) of the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board. The Board's FDO requires changes to code provisions for protecting channel migration zones (CMZs) within the five following rivers: Big Quilcene River, Little Quilcene River, Dosewallips River, Duckabush River, and the lower Hoh River. The purpose is to amend the Unified Development Code (UDC) to clarify regulatory requirements pertaining to CMZs.

Proposed line-in/line-out code language was provided to the Planning Commission on 2/18/09 and the group will hold a Public Hearing on March 18, 2009. The hearing will be held at 6:30 pm at the WSU Learning Center, Shold Business Park, 201 W Patison, Port Hadlock. Written comments may also be submitted by March 25, 2009 to:
DCD - CAO Revision
621 Sheridan Street
Port Townsend, WA 98368

Or via email.

View the code amendment packet below:
  • MLA 09-70 CAO Revision Packet (4.8 MB)

New CAO Adopted

The Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) for Jefferson County adopted Ordinance #03-0317-08 on March 17, 2008, thereby enacting the Unified Development Code (UDC) amendment Title 18.22 Jefferson County Code for Critical Areas. This ordinance rescinds Title 18.15, formerly titled Environmentally Sensitive Areas. The Critical Areas Ordinance #03-0317-08 DOES not change any existing exemptions to Agricultural activities as elucidated in Title 18.20, Jefferson County Code.
  • Jefferson County Critical Areas Ordinance, Title 18.22 JCC 4MB
    • Department of Community Development Staff Report (February 12, 2008)
    • Planning Commission Majority & Minority Reports (February 7, 2008)
    • Planning Commission Final Draft Code Recommendation (January 9, 2008)
    • Planning Commission recommendation Sneak Preview
    • Hearing Draft CAO available
    • Comprehensive Plan Amendment Application (October 29, 2007)
    • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
    • Timeline Extension July 2007

Planning Commission

Planning Commission Majority & Minority Reports

According to Planning Commission By-Laws, the group makes their official recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners by preparing a majority report. A minority opinion report may also be prepared. Planning Commission approval of this official recommendation ends the group's formal review of proposed code changes. View and download both reports below:

Note: files over 1 MB are indicated.
  • Planning Commission Critical Areas Ordinance Majority Report (February 7, 2008)
  • Planning Commission Minority Report (February 7, 2008) - Full report with attachments 19.8 MB
  • Planning Commission CAO Minority Report by section:
    • Minority Report 1.6 MB
    • Attachment A
    • Attachment B
    • Attachment C 6.6 MB
    • Attachment D 11 MB
    • Attachment E 4.7 MB
    • Attachment F
    • Attachment G
    • Attachment H
    • Attachment I
    • Attachment J

Planning Commission Final Draft Code Recommendation

After further review and input, the Planning Commission revised their draft code language recommendation. A majority and minority report are posted above with findings of fact to substantiate the recommended code revision. The proposed code language document is available below:
  • Final Draft Proposed New Chapter 18.22 JCC, "Critical Areas" (January 9, 2008) 1.3 MB

Critical Areas Ordinance Public Hearing Draft Available

This hearing DRAFT of a proposed new Chapter 18.22 JCC would amend and recodify provisions principally contained within existing Chapter 18.15 of the Jefferson County Code. The language embodied within this DRAFT is based upon preliminary direction provided by the Planning Commission. "Clean copy" language not highlighted or underlined is substantively the same as the existing code; language depicted with double-underlining or strike-outs and double-underlining is proposed new or amendatory language.

A new component of the Critical Areas Ordinance involves the provision of an optional landowner involvement process, which identifies specific performance standards on a site-by-site basis, with direct landowner involvement in the development of Critical Area Stewardship Plans. The existing process of selecting the prescriptive standards is also offered.


On January 18, 2006, the BoCC entered into a Settlement Agreement with the Washington Environmental Council (WEC) in order to resolve a petition before the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board filed by WEC following December 1, 2004, which was the statutory deadline for Jefferson County to complete a review and update of its Comprehensive Plan and development regulations according to RCW 36.70.130(4). The review includes a requirement to consider "best available science" in establishing development regulations for protecting the functions and values of critical areas.

The BoCC directed staff to prepare a proposal for public review that corresponds with the Settlement Agreement with WEC. This occurred on May 17, 2006. Subsequently, public input was considered and an extensive public involvement process including the Planning Commission, a Critical Areas Review Committee of the Planning Commission, and an involved public, brought forward this recommended Ordinance language. During that time, a second amendment to the Second Settlement Agreement extended the completion deadline to October 15, 2007. Before that deadline was reached, a third amendment to the Second Settlement Agreement was agreed upon which set forth a deadline extension to January 18, 2008.
  • Comprehensive Plan Amendment Application (October 29, 2007)
Revised from the May 2006 application for amending the CAO section of the Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan, this October 29 application accompanies the Planning Commission Public Hearing Draft CAO posted above.

CAO Comprehensive Plan Amendment Application (10/29/07) (5.0 MB)

Timeline Extension - July 2007

DCD developed a set of proposed amendments for the Unified Development Code (UDC) associated with the designation and protection of environmentally critical areas. The proposal was developed in accordance with direction from the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) in January 2006 in relation to a settlement agreement reached with a growth management petitioner.
  • Critical Areas code amendments application (file no. MLA06-242) - includes proposed line-in/line-out code amendments - May 17, 2006
  • Legal Notice: Critical Areas code amendments under file no. MLA06-242 published May 17, 2006
  • Second Settlement Agreement effective January 18, 2006
    • Note: The timelines of the Agreement have since been mutually amended. See agreement letter from Washington Environmental Council.

Revised Timeline

According to an anticipated amendment to the Second Settlement Agreement with growth management petitioner WEC, the BoCC is expected to take legislative action to amend Jefferson County's critical areas provisions on or before October 15, 2007.

See the Planning Process 2004-2007 section below for more information, including an updated review schedule.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • "Frequently Asked Questions" sheet for Jefferson County re: Critical Areas corrected September 7, 2006
  • "Frequently Asked Questions" sheet for West End residents re: Critical Areas July 14, 2006