County adopts temporary zoning for Sequim, other areas

Clallam County commissioners made a decision July 22 to skirt near-moratorium restrictions on development.

The county’s Department of Community Development will be able to permit certain development in areas affected by a state-level decision regarding the county’s planning.

In April, the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board ruled planning for certain areas throughout the county was out of compliance with the state’s Growth Management Act.

The decision would have put a hold on most development on noncompliant land had the county not set up the interim land-use regulations. The regulations will be in effect for six months, replacing previous temporary rules that were virtually the same as the new ones. During the six-month period the county’s planning staff will look at how to make the noncompliant areas better line up with the state law’s mandate.

The Growth Management Act required development to be centered in cities and other identified urban settings. The growth board decided that zoning on 26,286 acres of county land was not in line with the law.

Most of the noncompliant zoning was in and around the Sequim urban growth area. Other sections of the questionably zoned land were in Blyn, along the west end of the county and all of the Carlsborg urban growth area.

In the case of the land surrounding Sequim, the growth board indicated the county’s zoning inside the urban growth area was not dense enough and the zoning directly outside of the growth area was too dense.

The interim rules can be found online at under “county laws.”

Sequim area

The rules change the zoning inside Sequim’s growth area from Sequim Urban Residential 1 to Sequim Urban Residential 2, increasing the density upwards of five units per acre if hooked up to urban level.

“If we didn’t set up interim rules, there would be very little that we could allow to happen on the land in these areas,” said Steve Gray, county planning manager. “So avoiding what would have essentially been a moratorium on newly vesting development, the commissioners decided to adopt the interim rules.”

With the possibility of increased density, several residents of the Palo Verde Vista No. 2 subdivision, which is between Hendrickson and Priest roads, spoke up July 22, asking to be taken out of Sequim’s growth area completely.

Gray said the urban growth area reduction would be considered as he and his staff review the growth board’s mandate and search out ways to come back into compliance.

Tracts of land just outside of the growth area had their zoning changed from Rural Moderate 2 to Rural Low 5, effectively changing the density allowance from one home per 2.4 acres to one per 4.8 acres.


Blyn formerly was under Rural Center zoning, allowing a wide mix of uses with residential development allowed at one unit per half acre. Now Blyn is under Rural Low 5.

“What these interim rules do is provide more predictability of what can and cannot be done in lieu of the state decision,” Gray said, indicating a final rezone may be similar to the interim or very different. “It’s hard to tell because we have a lot to go over with the county commissioners and the planning commission and there are a few points under appeal.”


The Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is appealing several sections of the growth board’s decision to the Clallam County Superior Court. The county is challenging three of the noncompliance labels it received from the state board.

First, the county’s zoning surrounding urban growth areas was too dense. Second, that it needs both a police force and sewer system planned and paid for in Carlsborg for the growth area to be valid. And third, that the hearings board did not accept a motion for dismissal based on the county’s understanding that the deadline for appeals had expired long before Futurewise filed with the state.

The state ruled against Clallam based on challenges from Futurewise, of Olympia, and the local Dry Creek Coalition. The state sided with the county or made no ruling on some of the growth watchdogs’ challenges, but ruled against the county in those areas its forced to fix now, the most dramatic of which was in Carlsborg.

The county likely will need more time than six months to hire a consultant and have that contract worker complete a facilities plan for the sewer’s installation, at which time invalidity may be lifted by the state, so another extension for Carlsborg may be required at that time.

The Board of Clallam County Commissioners and the Clallam County Planning Commission will have joint meeting to discuss plans and protocol in searching out compliance during an Aug. 6 public meeting at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles.

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