Council to consider delay in CAO startup date

By Steve Wehrly/Journal reporter

If you’re afraid the new Critical Areas Ordinances will make that sweet lot of yours more difficult to develop, you may want the County Council to extend the CAO effective date from May 1 to Dec. 1.
Or maybe not.
The Council will consider another delay of the CAO implementation date at an April 9 public hearing, but, as with most stories in government or politics, there’s two sides to this one.

The March 12 council meeting included discussion of CAO implementation with Planning Coordinator Shireene Hale, who summarized the preparations for implementing the new land-use regulations and presented the council with some of the written materials prepared for the public. Hale told the council that Community Development and Planning Department was holding informational and planning meetings with interested parties and was prepared to implement the ordinances on May 1.

Councilwoman Patty Miller took a similar tack before making a motion that the council should have a public hearing on April 9 to consider delaying the effective date.

“We are encouraged to report that many aspects of the implementation are well underway and the staff is developing a variety of tools and resources for property owners to use in making decisions on developing and managing their property,” Miller said.

Commenting after the meeting, Hale said that keeping the May 1 effective date would allow CDPD staff to “identify and work on the bugs” in the ordinances under “actual operating conditions”, and before the Growth Management Hearings Board issues its decision on CAO appeals in September.

“We may have to make adjustments to the ordinances as a result of the hearings board decision,” she said, “and working with the ordinances over the summer would allow us to identify issues that need to be addressed so that we can deal with those issues at the same time we deal with issues identified by the growth board decision.”

Hale also noted that the “site-specific approach” and other features of the CAO would “give more flexibility” than current regulations so that, “depending on the situation,” some applications for permits might receive better treatment under the new regulations than under the present ones. One example: under the new law, “site evaluations for sites downhill from wetlands might be less expensive” than under the present law.

Another change made more favorable to owners by the CAO would allow permits for rebuilds to be issued after 75 percent or more of a residence is destroyed by fire; current regulations may not permit rebuilding. And, according to CDPD, “existing, legally established structures, uses and activities may continue in perpetuity and are considered to conform with the new critical area requirements.”

Hale also said that changes mandated by the Hearings Board “are likely to take six months or more,” and thus would not be completed by a December effective date for the ordinances.


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