County’s Preliminary Development Code Docket Now Available for Review

According to the County’s web site, “The Official Docket of Development Code Amendments is a list of proposals for making changes to Thurston County’s development regulations.” Proposed changes are assigned a priority, on a scale of A (high) through D (low).

A summary of the entire docket is here. Both priority A and priority B are considered “high priority”. Of particular interest to residents in the Griffin area may be these high priority items:

Docket item A-2 would “Amend the Forest Lands Conversion Ordinance for Rural Areas”. This is contained within the County’s code section 17.25. According to the docket, “This could clarify and strengthen tree protection in rural areas of the County to mirror the on-going urban forestry effort.”

Docket item A-8 would “Clarify Expiration Deadlines” and would be applicable to many codes. “The code is unclear regarding expiration thresholds on approved projects, both built and unbuilt, most particularly on projects with multiple phases or buildings. Adding specific language to clarify that certain actions, not just moving dirt, are necessary to avoid expiration would improve consistency and predictability. Importantly, it would also avoid indefinite extensions after codes have changed. ”

Docket item A-13 would make revisions to the Critical Areas Ordinance in Title 24. “The new critical areas ordinance was adopted in July 2012. Amendments were made to correct errors, references and address issues brought forward through the implementation of the new critical areas ordinance. As staff continues to work with the new regulations, more issues have or may develop that need to be addressed in a timely fashion. Examples may include fixes to the prairie definition, geologically hazard area definitions, and issues regarding older nonconforming uses.”

Docket item A-15 would remove the County Board of Commissioners from the existing quasi-judicial review process surrounding appeal of hearing decisions. “Due to the complexity of appeals made to the Hearing Examiner, there is a need for a judicial review. Hearing Examiner appeals would be appealed pursuant to state law and would not go to the Board of County Commissioners.”

Docket item B-6 refers to would improve the Notification of Adjacent Property Owners. “This change would give the most affected property owners notice of a proposed development prior to the actual construction. This may result in more appeals, but may also lead to more careful design.”

Docket item B-7 would change Rural Special Use Permit Standards (Title 20.54). “The addition of clarifying language to the code would be designed to more narrowly construe the range of potential special uses and to set specific expiration deadlines in an effort to maintain the County’s rural character.”

These are descriptions of only a few of the many items on this year’s docket.

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Written comments for the entire docket are due by email on December 12. This marks the comment period which is the second step in the seven-step process described in the illustration here.

The County’s web page describes the docket and the docket process in more detail. It also includes information regarding where you can file your comments, if you wish to do so before December 12.

A page describing frequently asked questions about the docketing process is here.

There are other opportunities for public input into the items on the docket and all briefings to the County’s Board of Commissioners related to the docket are open to the public.

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