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County gets split decision on zoning issues

Clallam County is on the path to bring contested zoning into compliance.

Planners received word last week that many previously noncompliant lands have been deemed compliant with the state's Growth Management Act after the county rezoned them.

However, several areas still need work.

They include limited areas of more intense rural development near Carlsborg, for which the county sought and received an extension.

"This is good news overall," said Clallam Planning Manager Steve Gray.

"But we still have plenty of work to do on the areas the board decided were still not in compliance, those rural-moderate areas, and the Carlsborg growth area."

The Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board issued a ruling last April that voided zoning on tens of thousands of acres in Clallam County as out of compliance with the state growth law.

The county asked for a deadline extension on Carlsborg and rural-moderate zones while it concentrated on correcting the Sequim growth area, Blyn and about 20 additional urban-like areas - such as Dungeness Village - into compliance.

The county rezoned the contested lands, often allowing greater or lesser housing densities depending on the growth board's 2008 ruling.

Only four urban-like areas remain out of compliance, plus Carlsborg and the challenged rural lands. The four limited areas of more intense rural development are at Deer Park, Dryke Road, Laird's Corner and Lake Farm Road.

"Each of the four remaining LAMIRDs have very small sections identified by the board, about 200 acres," Gray said.

The county no longer can use conditions that existed before July 1, 1990, to justify LAMIRDs but must use conditons that were present on that date.

That is the date the Legislature determined to set limits beyond which development must not sprawl.

"Our LAMIRDS need to be supported by evidence of infrastructure in place in 1990," Gray said.

"It's tough because many natural resource businesses were working up close to 1990."

Clallam County resized many of the LAMIRDs or eliminated them altogether to reach compliance, leaving some lands with fewer uses available than before the state's ruling.



Extensions

The county hired a consultant to review rural lands and lands left out of resized limited areas of more intense rural development. A consultant report on the progress of that work is scheduled for a Feb. 18 Clallam County Planning Commission meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

County planners hope the study will produce evidence to support different types of rural zoning, rather than a blanket rural zone of one home per five acres of land.

Separately, the county and the Clallam County Public Utility District hired a consultant to help create a capital facilities plan for Carlsborg.

The growth board's main issue with the growth area was its lack of urban infrastructure, including a sewer system and a city-style police force.

The county may be able to coordinate a regular sheriff's deputy presence in the area, leaving a sewer as the main hurdle the county must jump before Carlsborg is deemed compliant.

Until that time, Carlsborg landowners' ability to use their land has been severely limited. The county is coordinating with the PUD and the Carlsborg Community Advisory Council to make sure a sewer and financing plan is in place before the state's deadline.

While the county works on compliance, it also is lining up arguments for an appeal it filed in Clallam County Superior Court. The appeal contests the board's ruling on Carlsborg and on the rural moderate lands. The hearing is scheduled for April.



Landowners looking to learn if their land has been affected by the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board decisions or those looking for background or updates to the compliance issue should visit www.clallam.net and click on "2008 Growth Management Compliance Proceedings."



Reach Evan McLean at

emclean@sequimgazette.com.

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