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Posted on: February 2, 2023

Updates to Critical Areas Ordinance kick off with an engagement period

Pierce County is conducting a periodic review and update of its Critical Areas regulations, as directed by the Washington State Growth Management Act and seeking input from the public until March 6, on priorities and suggestions for future changes prior to drafting amendments to development regulations.

Stakeholders have the opportunity to learn more about the values and functions of critical areas, key protection strategies and areas for improvements. Proposed changes could impact residents, landowners, and businesses. Comments received during this engagement phase will inform the development of draft regulations that will become part of a formal comment period.  Community members may take part in the process by visiting Opportunities to engage include an online open house as well as several live virtual opportunities for community conversations.

The Critical Areas Ordinances (CAOs) are a collection of development regulations intended to conserve the functions of environmentally sensitive areas and to protect the public from hazards associated with developing in areas like floodways and landslide hazard areas. Washington state law requires cities and counties to include regulations specific to five types of critical areas: Wetlands, Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas, Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas, Floodways and Geologic Hazard Areas. Every 10 years, as part of the Comprehensive Plan periodic review and update process, the County does an update to the Critical Areas to ensure regulations are consistent with federal and state policies and to incorporate scientific advancements.

Updates to CAOs are informed by science, policymakers and stakeholders. Jurisdictions must document scientific sources that inform regulations. This scientific review will identify policies and regulations that need to be updated based on the science and comply with updated federal and state policies. Pierce County has produced a report on the “Best Available Science” that will be used to inform draft regulation updates. 

About the Comprehensive Plan
The Pierce County Comprehensive Plan is a 20-year policy document that addresses growth in the unincorporated areas of Pierce County. The Comprehensive Plan’s periodic review must be completed by Dec. 31, 2024. It is also the foundation for several community plans and capital facilities planning, which must be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan’s policy framework. 

 # # # 

Michelle Kircher, Public Information Specialist
[email protected]

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