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Islanders angered by proposed changes to not-all-that-critical areas ordinance | The Gerbil

The San Juan County Council was confronted last week by an angry standing-room-only crowd as it considered an update of the county’s not-all-that-critical areas ordinance.

The proposed regulatory changes drew criticism from the left and right — as well from others who claim their political stripes are closer to the color olive, or maybe teal.

“Why they gotta be messin’ with the way things are,” Jim Jacoby of San Juan Island said. “It’s not like anybody’s going to be fixin’ the potholes in my neighborhood anyway.”

First adopted in 1985, the not-all-that-critical areas ordinance is a catch-all category dedicated to any activity or area that’s not governed by the county Comprehensive Plan or local development regulations. State law requires counties, cities and towns whose long-range planning is dictated by the Growth Management Act to revise NCAOs whenever they get around to it.

As proposed, the pending revision will have no effect whatsoever on any element of the local NCAO, with exception of litter boxes, which will require a permit. Flower beds, doghouses, potholes, seasonal puddles and piles of dirt (of less than 60 cubic feet), as well as children’s swing sets, would still be considered not critical enough to require regulatory measures.

For some, such as Orcas Island’s Jasmine Stumper, the list of unregulated activities goes too far.

“There needs to be some kind of enforcement or the quality of life we have here will be gone completely,” Stumper said. “The gardens in my neighborhood are absolute chaos.”

Others contend that certain areas subject to development regulations should be included on the not-all-that critical list.

“We’ve got 410 miles of saltwater shoreline,” Shaw Island’s John Fartherwright said. “When you got that much it can’t all be critical.”

Proposed changes will be considered at a public hearing, the date, time and location of which have yet to be determined.

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