Skagit County Issues

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Skagit County GMA Compliant in 2010

Skagit County Commissioners are pleased to announce that the county has obtained GMA-compliance for the first time since the passage of the Growth Management Act in 1990, making the county eligible for additional state grant and funding opportunities.

In an order issued on Christmas Eve, the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board dismissed Skagit County's last remaining GMA compliance issue and the long-running Abenroth case, which was initially filed in 1997. Skagit County reached settlement with the remaining parties in the case early last month, and all parties jointly moved for dismissal. The settlement commits the county to a community-based public participation program for creation of Planned Unit Development regulations and low impact development techniques for the Bayview Ridge Urban Growth Area. More information is available at

 "Growth Management Act compliance is a noteworthy accomplishment and signifies that the County is working toward sustainable and well-planned growth while meeting community goals and policies under the requirements of state laws and community plans,”  Skagit County Planning and Development Services Director Gary Christensen said. "Skagit County residents should be proud," Commissioner Ron Wesen declared. "We are planning for responsible growth while protecting property rights."

Although Skagit County has one additional compliance matter regarding the county's critical areas ordinance for ongoing agriculture, the county is precluded from taking action to achieve compliance by the Legislature's imposition of a statewide time out prohibiting changes to critical areas regulations affecting agriculture until July 1, 2010. The Legislature is expected to extend that timeout another year in the next legislative session.

For more information contact Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ryan Walters at or 360-336-9300 x 3135.

Commissioners sign resolution establishing program and task force on sustainability and climate change

SKAGIT COUNTY – On Tuesday, June 24, 2008, the Skagit County Board of Commissioners signed a resolution establishing a program and task force for sustainability and climate change mitigation and adaption. The resolution addresses projected impacts on Skagit County citizens and infrastructure, caused by severe weather, rising temperatures, and rising sea levels as well as the cost of fossil fuel, which has risen dramatically in recent months.

“Many counties throughout the nation are reducing global warming pollution and becoming more energy efficient due to programs like these,” said Skagit County Commissioner Sharon Dillon.

The resolution calls for Skagit County to create an inventory of county government’s operational greenhouse gas emissions and implement policies, programs, and operations to achieve significant, measurable, and sustainable reductions.

It also calls for Skagit County employees to conserve electricity and fossil fuel, reduce paper consumption, and plastic bottle use.

A 12-member Climate Action and Sustainability Taskforce will be appointed by subsequent resolution. The Taskforce will assist and advise Skagit County officials on how to satisfy the county’s commitment to the resolution.

For further information, contact:
Dan Berentson
Communications Director

County Commissioners take action on Bayview Ridge Subarea Plan

Bayview Ridge Subarea Plan
Board of County Commissioners Adopts Amendments to Bayview Ridge Subarea Plan
And Development Regulations

July 29, 2008
The Skagit County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) signed Ordinance O20080009 Tuesday, July 29, amending the Bayview Ridge Subarea Plan and development regulations. The action is in response to the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board decision in case 07-2-0002. The ordinance adopts an expanded boundary for the future urban area, called a "non-municipal urban growth area." Effective date is Friday, August 1.

Key features of the ordinance include:

·       Updated capital facilities plans for agencies providing urban services

·       Urban standards required for all new development

·       Minimum density of 4 residences per acre

·       Incentive for farmland preservation through purchase of density credits to raise density to maximum of 6 units per acre

·       500 acres changed from light to heavy industrial zone
Two earlier ordinances made the following changes:

·       Public sewer required for all new development, with minor exceptions (O20080005), and

·       Schools allowed as special use in community center zone (O20080007)

Large new residential development in Bayview Ridge is not allowed until the future adoption of additional regulations.

For more information contact:

Jeroldine Hallberg
Senior Planner
Planning & Development Services
1700 College Way
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
360.336.9410 x 3175

Skagit County Prevails In 14-Year Litigation On Agricultural Buffers

SKAGIT COUNTY – On Thursday, April 3, 2008, the Washington Supreme Court rejected the Swinomish Tribe’s motion for reconsideration of the Court’s decision last fall. The earlier decision upheld the County’s critical areas ordinance applicable to ongoing agricultural operations.

The Supreme Court amended its prior decision, making clear that the County is not obligated to remove productive agricultural land from production in order to satisfy the Growth Management Act. New language in the Court’s ruling is indicated by underlining below:

A requirement to develop buffers would impose on farmers an obligation to enhance areas that were lawfully cleared in the past, either by replanting the areas or allowing the natural recovery of vegetation within them. Without a duty to enhance being imposed by the GMA, however, we cannot require farmers in Skagit County to replant or to allow the natural recovery of what was long ago plucked up. The county, therefore, need not impose a requirement that farmers establish riparian buffers.

A requirement to put in riparian buffers would have meant removing thousands of acres of prime Skagit County farmland from active production.

“Skagit County’s critical areas ordinance provides the means for designating and protecting riparian habitat, said Skagit County Commissioner Don Munks. “We are happy with the ruling, but understand other programs are necessary to compensate farmers for the conversion of habitat for salmon enhancement.”

The Supreme Court’s decision put an end to more than 14 years of litigation over the buffer issue. “We’re looking forward to working with the Swinomish Tribe on salmon recovery and enhancement issues,” said Munks. “With this extremely controversial issue behind us hopefully we can all work together to help farms and fish.”

For further information, contact:

Dan Berentson
Communications Director


Skagit County has released its 2007 report summarizing the work the county government has done toward salmon recovery in the past year.

In October 2007, the Skagit County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution articulating a coordinated salmon recovery policy for county staff. The Salmon Policy Resolution sets Skagit County government on a path of proactive leadership and cooperation toward salmon recovery in the Skagit and Samish River basins.

To effectively monitor progress, the Salmon Policy Resolution requires an annual “Salmon Action Report.” Although this first document is principally a baseline from which to measure results in future years, this year’s report reveals that Skagit County’s new salmon policy has produced clear and decisive results since the county adopted its resolution a mere four months ago. A concise list of those results may be found in the Executive Summary.

Skagit County invites the public and interested organizations to review the report and reply with comments or suggestions as appropriate on both the document and the county’s program. The new Skagit County Salmon Strategy website, available at, provides an electronic copy of the report and many of the supporting documents referenced in this report.

For more information, please contact:

Ryan Walters
Special Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
Skagit County Prosecutor's Office
Office 360-419-3382

Skagit County Commissioners Building
1800 Continental Place Ste 100
Mount Vernon WA 98273-5625

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