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SubjectCouncil Passes CAO with a 5-1 Vote
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20 December 2012


Dear San Juan County Friends and Neighbors,

The Council Passed the CAO with a 5-1 Vote.

After a mind-numbing seven-hour day deliberating details and making significant changes to the several sections of the Critical Areas Ordinance, the Council hastily moved to complete their deliberations (just before the ferry was scheduled to depart).  With only 40 minutes available, they directed Staff to produce a final version of all four sections of the CAO for their signatures.

It is interesting to note that during the day, Council Chair Miller had made it known that the Council could take the opportunity and the time for “one last look” at the final documents.  This last look was intended to be certain their directions to staff had been understood and accurately followed.  She set aside time on the Council calendar to finalize the Ordinance on either December 18 or December 27, a day the Council Members had mutually agreed to add to their schedule.  Nonetheless the Council raced to complete and sign the document—without a final review.

To his credit, Councilman Rich Peterson opposed three of the four sections, stating that his reluctance to do so was simply a matter of timing and the inability to review the documents again after the many changes that had been made during the day.  He said, “My obligation is to represent the people who live in this county.”  He also stated that the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Areas Section went “well beyond what we are required to do.”  This section will play a significant role in the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) update that the County will be working on next.

Please note, this past Wednesday, December 12, the County published the legal notice as required by law.  This date begins the 60-day period within which any appeals to the Ordinance may be filed with the Hearings Board.

For your information, you may read the final four sections of the Critical Areas Ordinance at the links below:

General Regulations for Critical Areas

Regulations for Geologically Hazardous Areas and Frequently Flooded Areas

Regulations for Wetlands

Regulations for Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas

CSA is reviewing theses final sections of the Critical Areas Ordinance and considering the Ordinance’s legal ramifications to determine what actions, if any, may be appropriate to take in the next 60 days.  The new regulations will go into affect on March 1, 2013.

Thank you for your ongoing financial support of Common Sense Alliance.  Donations may be sent to our post office box shown below or accepted through our PayPal account located on the CSA website.  Please note that your contribution is tax deductible as CSA is a 501©3 non-profit organization.


The Board of Common Sense Alliance


P.S.  We recommend a series of articles The Trojan Heron has been running which highlight some of the regulations in the CAO that we will be faced with in a variety of ways, even to the extent of cutting brush.  Check out the blog. 

Common Sense Alliance
P.O. 1249 Friday Harbor, 98250

Common Sense Alliance (CSA) is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization based in San Juan County.  CSA depends upon individual donors to support its efforts in your behalf.  Funds provided by you are used to retain outside legal counsel, subject matter experts and to pay other expenses necessary to fund these activities.

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