Site-specific buffers are complex. In a perfect world, site-specific buffers would be better for property owners and better for our environment. But the costs to administer a system of this complexity will be high, both in time and money, unless the new regulations are clear, consistent and GMA-compliant. Any criticisms that citizens have for the structure of the CAO update should be addressed to the county council and especially to Councilor Richard Fralick who proposed Island county’s site-specific buffers as a model for our county.
Senior Planner Shireene Hale is doing a superb job fulfilling the Council’s mandate to create a clear, scientifically-based site-specific buffer system. As a member of the wetlands technical advisory group, I know that she has worked many nights, weekends, and even holidays on the CAO updates. The time and date of her emails show the hard work Planner Hale has dedicated to this most complex of Council directives.
I am pleased that John Evans is looking for inconsistencies in the proposed regulations. While I applaud John for his careful reading of the CAO drafts, his concern about “needing a permit to turn over a spadeful of soil” is being addressed by the county council. A recent press release from our county states, “At least one additional adjustment to the general section is likely. During the initial Council review, Councilmember Patty Miller expressed concern that the proposed review process for new development could be interpreted to require a review of even very small-scale land development or land disturbance activities. At its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28, the council revisited that issue, and voted unanimously to direct staff to propose alternative language to eliminate unnecessarily burdensome requirements for development activities that do not otherwise require a permit.”