Okanogan County has been catching up on a backlog of planning and land-use documents. The critical areas ordinance (CAO) is next on the list.
All cities and counties in Washington must adopt regulations protecting critical areas to preserve the natural environment, wildlife habitat, and sources of drinking water. The plans also promote public safety by limiting development in areas prone to natural hazards such as floods and landslides.
The state defines five types of critical areas: wetlands, aquifer-recharge areas, fish and wildlife habitat, frequently flooded areas, and geologically hazardous areas. Critical areas plans should be based on the best-available science.
Although the county’s CAO went through the full process eight years ago, the county commissioners never adopted it, Okanogan County Planning Director Pete Palmer said.
The state Department of Commerce recently completed its review of the CAO and requested minor changes. The department is pressuring the county to formally adopt it, Palmer said.
The comment period on the county’s finding that the CAO won’t have significant environmental impacts has passed, but people can still comment on the CAO itself. That deadline has been extended to May 21. Send comments to Natural Resource Planner Angie Hubbard at email@example.com. Call (509) 422-7090 for more information.
The CAO and related maps and appendices are available at https://okanogancounty.org/planning. The Okanogan County planning commission will hold a public hearing on the CAO on Monday, May 24, at 7 p.m. Log-in information will be available on the same website.