Critical Areas Ordinance
The Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) regulates development in wetlands, frequently flooded areas, geologically hazardous areas, and areas that affect aquifers used for potable water, fish and wildlife habitat. Under state law, the county must use the best available science to protect these critical areas. MVCC submitted lengthy comments on earlier drafts of the CAO in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2015.
MVCC still has major concerns about the current draft of the CAO:
• It does not use the best available science. Scientific research justifies stronger environmental protections than those in the CAO. We are especially concerned that little has been done to protect critical aquifer-recharge areas. The CAO fails to mention studies conducted in the Methow and Okanogan watersheds that document the limitations of aquifers and forecast water shortages, particularly in the Lower Methow Valley.
• The maps that will be used to determine whether a critical areas exist on a particular parcel are inadequate, imprecise and difficult to read.
• The ordinance allows the county “administrator” to interpret critical-area regulations liberally when reviewing development proposals. This could nullify important critical-area protections.
Notice of SEPA determination of significance and scoping period for “Zoning – OCC Title 17A, Code Amendment 2015-1”
Following the Adoption of its Comprehensive Plan, Okanogan County is considering the adoption of an amended zoning ordinance and zone map to implement the Comprehensive Plan and guide review of development proposals in the county. To read the full report please click here.
MVCC CAO comments from April 25, 2012: In April of 2012, MVCC provided extensive comments on the Critical Areas Ordinance proposed as part of the Okanogan County Plan.