Jefferson County Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) Update
Jefferson County's Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) update process has been long, frequently contentious, and very educational. When the ordinance was originally returned to the county as the result of an appeal by the Washington Environmental Council, a new version was drafted for consideration by the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners. During the public process conducted by the Jefferson County Planning Commission, the regulated community learned that significant provisions, including extraordinarily large buffers, had been negotiated behind closed doors between a county official and the local representative of a non-profit advocacy organization headquartered in Seattle.
The public reaction to this information, coupled with the severity of the proposed restrictions on the use and enjoyment of private property, led to the formation of a citizens committee composed of a broad range of stakeholders, which was charged with the responsibility of reviewing the then-current CAO and making recommendations to the Planning Commission for proposed provisions for the updated CAO. The Planning Commission recommended and the Board of County Commissioners ultimately largely adopted the more restrictive provisions contained in a minority report instead of the provisions recommended by the majority of the the committee.
After working with the update process through participation in the Critical Areas Ordinance Review Committee, the Olympic Stewardship Foundation (OSF) determined that the resulting ordinance update contained numerous serious deficiencies. Our findings resulted in our finding it necessary to file a challenge to the ordinance with the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board (WWGMHB). Represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, we prevailed on some significant points, and the CAO was remanded to the county to bring the ordinance into compliance.
Jefferson County completed that process, and the board approved the ordinance.
Having satisfied their requirements before the WWGMHB, the CAO was approved by the board, and OSF appealed. Our case was heard in Thurston County Superior Court in late 2009, where the judge affirmed the board's decision, noting that he expected the case would be appealed to the Washington State Court of Appeals, which he felt to be a more appropriate venue. The judge said that we had demonstrated that Jefferson County had committed error, but was not certain as to how much error.
Our appeal to Division II, Washington State Court of Appeals, was heard in January, 2011, and we are currently awaiting the decision.
The appeal process has produced many documents. We're providing a selection of those documents for your review and information.
Petition for Review, May 23, 2008
Final Decision and Order, November 19, 2008
Petition for Review, December 16, 2008
Petitioner Olympic Stewardship Foundation's Response to Jefferson County's Statement of Actions Taken to Comply, June 17, 2009
Petitioner Olympic Stewardship Foundation's Objection to Amicus Motion and Notice of Intent to Participate, July 2, 2009
Order on Intent to Participate and Order on Motion for Amicus Status, July 7, 2009
Order on Compliance, July 20, 2009
Petitioner's Opening Brief, September 16, 2009
Petitioner's Reply Brief, November 9, 2009
Petitioner's Opening Brief, April 14, 2010
Petitioner's Reply Brief, July 15, 2010
Jefferson County's Critical Areas Ordinance update process produced many documents, particularly during the period of August 2006 onwards, through the Critical Areas Ordinance Review Committee's efforts. The following documents are in the public record, and we hope you find them useful.
Jefferson County Critical Areas Ordinance (as adopted)
Committee Reports — These reports were deliberated, voted on and signed during regularly scheduled Critical Areas Ordinance Review Committee (CAORC) meetings.
Critical Areas Ordinance Review Committee Final Recommendation (CAORC)
Foundational Principles and Values (CAORC)
Preamble / Purpose and Intent (CAORC)
Channel Migration Zone Subcommittee Report (Crittenden)
Considerations of the CAO Subcommittee on the Inclusion of CMZs in the CAO (Wheeler)
Forestry Report and Recommendations (Wheeler)
Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas Final Recommendations (Schultz)
Overview of Suggested Revisions to CAO Regarding Agriculture (Latham)
CAORC Supplemental Best Available Science (Brooks)
Jefferson County CAORC Response to the DOE Critique of Brooks (2006) (Brooks)
Minority Reports — (Only Dr. Crittenden's minority report was offered to the full CAORC for signatures.)
Recommended Organization/Format of the CAO (Hiatt and Silver)
Recommendations on CAO Format and Administrative Provisions (Hiatt and Silver)
Growth Management Hearings Board Findings and Conclusions Related to Critical Areas (Yount) Note: Most of the cases referenced in the Yount document were heard under the jurisdiction of the Central Washington Growth Management Hearings Board and are thus not relevant to Jefferson County, which is under the jurisdiction of the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board.
Minority Commentary on: Foundational Principles and Values (Hiatt)
Objections to Both the Majority and Minority Reports (Crittenden)
Comparison of Formats of Three Different CAOs (Hiatt)
Recommendations for the Inclusion of CMZs in the Jefferson County CAO (Silver)
Recommendations for Agriculture in Critical Areas (Hiatt)
Comments and Questions on Article I of Brooks' Draft Code on Wetlands (Hiatt)
BAS, Flood and Channel Migration Hazard Areas, Thurston County (Hiatt and Silver)