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Public meetings June 8 and 10 regarding Critical Areas Ordinance work plan

The San Juan County Council will convene at 9 a.m. — one hour earlier than usual — on June 8 to allow time to discuss and take public input on the work plan for the county’s Critical Areas Ordinance update.

The council will also have a special meeting with the Planning Commission on June 10, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Fire District 3 headquarters fire station, 1011 Mullis St., Friday Harbor. The purpose of the joint meeting is to discuss the Critical Area Ordinance Work Plan and take public comment. The meeting was originally scheduled for 9-11:30 a.m., but Planning Coordinator Shireene Hale felt more time was needed for discussion.

The agenda and related materials may be obtained three days prior on the San Juan County Web site or at the council offices during each business day between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. For more information, call the Clerk of the County Council at 370-7470.

The Critical Areas Ordinance, or CAO, provides protections for items considered essential for the preservation of the quality of life in the county, including aquifers, fish and wildlife habitat, wetlands, geologically hazardous areas and frequently flooded areas.

The update, which is required under the Growth Management Act, was due for completion in 2006. The latest revision of the work plan targets completion of staff work in mid-2011.

In February, the council voted to restart a portion of the updating process and fund a review of the “Best Available Science” used in the drafting of the regulations to ensure that revisions to existing regulations are appropriate for the county’s island environment.

The draft work plan provides an outline of the work ahead, including provisions for public input, workshops on “hot button issues” such as buffers and non-conforming uses, new research, and the review and adoption of existing scientific research.

A preliminary draft of the work plan was reviewed by the council at its May 25 meeting. Revisions to the work plan are now under way and a new downloadable draft will be linked to the council’s agenda page on June 4, county Communications Manager Stan Matthews reported.

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