Spokane County commissioners on Tuesday approved a land-use ordinance they hope will pass muster with state officials who rejected an earlier version.
Required under the state’s Growth Management Act, the “critical areas” ordinance is designed to protect streams, farms, wetlands, forests and other sensitive areas.
The county’s original ordinance was rejected in April, when the growth management hearings board for Eastern Washington ruled that commissioners hadn’t used “best available science” in setting buffers between streams and new development.
Based on recommendations by the county planning commission, the rewritten ordinance calls for larger buffers in some cases. For instance, development would be allowed no closer than 250 feet, rather than 200 feet, to the Spokane River and other major rivers and streams.
Commissioner John Roskelley voted against the revision, saying he still doesn’t think the buffers are based on science.
Planning commission members reviewed a Western Washington study by the state Department of Wildlife before making their recommendations. But they called for narrower buffers than those the state agency said are needed to protect wildlife.
“They’re saying it doesn’t apply to Eastern Washington” because conditions are different here, said Roskelley. “But the species (of streamside wildlife) are indigenous to both regions.”
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.