Whidbey News-Times


Comments to be accepted on Island County's habitat plan

By JANIS REID Whidbey News-Times Staff reporter
October 28, 2013 · 10:32 AM

A great blue heron flies along the shoreline of the Coupeville waterfront. / Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

Residents can weigh in on the public participation plan for the county’s fish and wildlife conservation efforts at the Island County commissioners’ regular Monday board meeting.

Public comment will begin no earlier than 6:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28.

Senior Planner Brad Johnson said the update to the Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas was originally supposed to be completed in 2005 as part of the state-mandated Comprehensive Plan update.

When the county failed to complete this step, the Whidbey Environmental Action Network, an environmental group commonly known as WEAN, filed a petition in 2012 with the Growth Management Hearings Board, which in turn ordered the county to finish the update, Johnson said.

Island County planning staff started the update process in September by establishing the scope of the update and creating a technical advisory group.

By Nov. 18, the county is supposed to review the best available science; by Dec. 16 the county is supposed to assess the habitat conditions; by Jan. 15, planners will deliver a science report and recommendations; and by April 7, they are scheduled to establish a critical-areas ordinance policy and associated regulations.

The project will be brought back to the county commissioners and the public at each stage of the update, allowing for board and resident feedback.

Once a draft ordinance update is created, the county will establish a 60-day public comment period to allow property owners and invested parties to review the proposed changes. They hope to complete the update by July 24.

“The critical areas ordinance aims to balance environmental protection with property rights,” Johnson said. “This will be of particular interest to some property owners.”

County staff will be updating the Planning and Community Development website with all relevant documents and the public can be notified if they are on the county’s email list.


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