BOARD OF MASON COUNTY COMMISSIONERS PROCEEDINGS
April 17, 2000
The continuation of the April 4, 2000 hearing was called to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Shelton Civic Center, 525 West Cota Street, Shelton, WA by Chairperson John A. Bolender. Commissioners Cynthia D. Olsen and Mary Jo Cady were in attendance.
B U S I N E S S
HEARING CONT. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN & DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS
Chairperson Bolender opened the hearing for further public comment. He asked that speakers be considerate to those that would like to speak after them. He asked that they be very specific and speak to the issues of the Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulations being considered at the hearing. The Board would like suggestions as to how individuals would like the comprehensive plan and development regulation shaped in Mason County.
Dave Salzer, Planning Director, stated there are six (6) additional letters which have been received from the public regarding the hearing.
Irene Davis, NE 170 Davis Farm Road, Belfair, wanted to address the Belfair Urban Growth Area. She expressed she is in disagreeance with approving the request of the Theler Board to have the Theler Wetlands be included in the urban growth area. The approximately 70 acres adjoining the Theler Wetlands is a very special place in that it is environmentally sensitive. She did not believe there should be urban development up to the property line of the Theler Wetlands. She understood that urban growth would provide local control of which was understood it was part of the Belfair Village. She disagreed with the local control, which she felt was no control. Belfair is not an incorporated area and they still expect the County to be in charge.
She stressed that environmental laws are only as good as they can be enforced. She stated there are examples up and down the river and on the Canal where the rules have been bent and if they are not enforced there is landslides and flooding. There are plans for expanding the buildings and more walkways. She understood the expansion would be back of the school and to the south. It would not affect the Theler Wetlands to be in a rural area. She believed it has a better chance of being protected. If it is found it is necessary to expand it to be an urban development, the boundary of the urban growth area could be moved.
The Board stated if the wetlands were taken out of the urban growth area and the line was moved back as she proposed it would still provide for the same level of urban density adjacent to the wetlands as having the wetlands in the urban growth area. It was questioned if it would be acceptable for some kind of transition area around the wetland that had a lower density than what is proposed in the urban growth area.
Mrs. Davis stated she is concerned about protecting the Theler Wetlands and the transition area would be okay.
Jeff Carey, Allyn Community Association, expressed one area of concern is the property owner to the south end of the urban growth area (UGA) boundary which they have proposed to the County. He stated he has a letter with a map and the possible boundaries. Also included are the guidelines that were provided by the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board (WWGMHB) for boundaries. There are two options: along State Route 3 on one side and Sherwood Creek Road and the other option is State Route 3 and section line which takes it a little further west. The Committee agrees it makes sense to put the property owner of concern in the UGA. The property owner would be willing to set aside certain things that come up to the creek because the property transverses the Sherwood Creek.
They are still working on the sub-area plan. The UGA looks like around 1200 acres including the golf course. There has been some discussion about the boundaries and if they make sense. When an individual looks at the boundaries, what has been developed, what has been proposed and what is in place, there is really only 200 - 220 acres that is somewhat mixed and open. It is the eastern third from the edge of the hill to the waterfront north and south of Sherwood Creek. A lot of the infrastructure is addressed in Lakeland Village. He concluded they are in support of the boundaries. (Letter dated 4/17/200 submitted from Allyn Community Association)
David Overton provided some diagrams relating to a minimum design criteria. They could plat and design the first build out phase. The rest of the open space would be held as drainfields with the documents stating they cannot be developed until sewer went through. They could be sold in two ways: either the developer retain the open space lands and then they would have a financial incentive to have the sewer funded; or sell multiple lots and have homeowner retain one as a yard and one saved for when sewer came through. One integral part is they believe in all new development in the UGA should sign a no-contest clause so they arent building up density and then building up people who dont want a sewer system to become funded. (Letter dated 4/17/2000 submitted from David E. Overton)
Sarah Smyth McIntosh , Skookum Lumber Company; Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad; South 101 Corridor Group; and John Hofert; stated she is repeating some of the previous comments because they are not reflected in the draft nor was reason given why they were not reflected. She believed the document should reflect local circumstances. She requested the Board ask for a legal analysis of the draft comprehensive plan and development regulations document from the Prosecuting Attorney.
The Board stated they had a discussion with the Prosecutor and he is able and ready to review the proposal once it is delivered to their office.
Ms. Smyth McIntosh noted there is a significant rewrite of the general land use section that there were concerns about. She presented an analysis of rural areas and options on page 3 of her comments. Basically, there are existing areas, which are already developed. These areas are the economic engine or rural economic phase, along with the urban growth areas. She believed the County needs to be permissive as possible within the law to allow the businesses to expand, infill, develop, and redevelop. They need to ensure all citizens that it will be responsible and well-designed development. She felt that could be done by starting with what is available and move forward in subarea planning; in refining the development regulations; in drafting design guidelines and working closely with subarea groups to make sure the concerns are met about how those existing areas are mapped. Often the argument over boundaries is for the boundaries to be as tight as possible because it is uncertain of what will be allowed to happen inside the boundaries. She stated the boundaries should only be based on the criteria of the Growth Management Act. (Comments dated 4/14/2000 submitted on behalf of Skookum Lumber Company, Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad and South 101 Corridor Group)
She stated Skookum Lumber Company is a resource based business as well as a long time rural industrial use that has been in the area and employed over 150 employees for many years. It is on significant infrastructure, on the rail line, on Highway 108, and has no need for urban level of governmental services. They want the ability to be permitted as a resource based industry, existing area, with a logical outer boundary and the ability to use the existing infrastructure within the parameters of the law for rural industrial and commercial uses. Our preference all along is to have zoning as rural industrial. She believed the most important point is within the existing areas there can be economic activity, new location of new economic uses within the existing areas. But care needs to be given when locating new activities in the rural area where there is no historic pattern. There needs to be care not to create low-density sprawl. (Letter dated 4/17/200 Re: Taylor Towne RAC from Smyth McIntosh)
Commissioner Bolender stated there is some concern about the amount and scale of businesses allowed in the rural areas. There is testimony that suggests that new businesses that would want to locate in Mason County are directed by the GMA to be located only in urban growth areas.
Ms. Smyth-McIntosh added that Mason County Community Development Councils (MCCDC) comments qualified their comment that the rural element does allow some rural development. She was not sure that they have analyzed it with the law as she has. She felt they could come to a better understanding between MCCDC and her concerns as it relates to Taylor Towne. She believed the law is clear that undeveloped lands can be included within the logical outer boundaries. RCW 36.70A.070(5)(d)(i)
Those areas that are developing on undeveloped land within the logical outer boundaries do not have to assure visual compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood. They are exempted from Section C (i) and (ii). The basic principle is economic vitality within the tightly drawn, logical outer boundaries which are drawn based on the criteria of the act. Outside of that you must be very careful and have measures to contain and minimize the rural development. They must ensure there is visual compatibility and make sure there are no new patterns of low-density sprawl. There are specific mechanisms in the act which clearly state what measures need to be in place. There is one threshold for inside boundaries (historic development) and one threshold for outside. She stressed to draw the boundaries with as much consensus from the community and then be careful what occurs outside of those boundaries.
She stated she took the Planning Commissions proposal of 3/27/00 and mapped it showing where their businesses are located. She stated she wanted to specifically deal with logical outer boundaries for Taylor Towne and provide with input about those boundaries and where they think they should be located. They have also reviewed MCCDCs comments and believe they want to support existing businesses. However, they still have not been able to show them what that really means. She did not believe they understand what it means to support existing businesses. She stressed that existing businesses must be afforded the full rights of the law and that includes the right to include some undeveloped land within logical outer boundaries; the right to infill, develop, or redevelop within the logical outer boundaries without having to comply with the requirements of assuring visual compatibility and inappropriate conversion of undeveloped lands; also the right to change the use of the business owners property to another rural commercial or industrial use and the right to have regular logical outer boundaries based on the criteria of the Act.
She added that an integral part of the rights relates to the value in the land and the GMA goal to protect property rights. All the goals are equal. New rural businesses are clearly allowed within the existing areas of redevelopment where there is logical outer boundaries have been properly drawn. The existing infrastructure (roads, sewer, water, septic, etc.) has to be able to satisfy the new use. The new rural business cannot go beyond the capacity of the existing infrastructure. Business owners must be able to retain the value of their property in order to have enough capital to fund the necessary expansions and possibly even the eventual move to a more appropriate location within the urban growth area if needed.
If the position of MCCDC prevails it will severely infringe on the private property rights of American Cushion. It will substantially interfere with the goals of the GMA Act to protect private property rights and encourage economic development. The proposal for tight outer boundaries with no undeveloped lands not only violates the goals of the act but it does not comply with the criteria for drawing these logical outer boundaries. She felt MCCDC is advocating abnormally irregular boundaries because they want to make sure no undeveloped land is included. Physical boundaries such as streets and highways should be followed as well as the need to preserve the character of the existing natural neighborhood and the ability to serve the rural development with existing infrastructures. The bottom line is they should not draw these boundaries so tight as to economically strangle the existing businesses and take away their property rights. She felt they could do both; have the kind of development regulations and the kind of measures to minimize and contain the development and make it responsible development and preserve the economic engine.
Cmmr. Cady asked why the businesses north of Insell Road were taken out on their proposal.
Ms. Smyth-McIntosh responded they didnt include those businesses north of Insell Road because they have not had input from those businesses.
She noted that John Hofert owns 81 acres on Clear Lake platted in 1931. Some of the lots are on the lake and they are 50 90 frontage; some lots are an acre or less. It is a vested plat and they are by law grandfathered; however the current zoning map shows it as one to 20. She understands they would have to meet the County Health regulations at the very minimum and that would be possibly a 3.5 to 1 density. That is quite a bit of discrepancy between the zoning map is showing and what the legal rights are. The map needs to be corrected. She felt it is a good candidate for -- I know there are concerns about aggregating lots that are platted but undeveloped and some May not be developable because of the county Health Standards. They would only ask that the floor be the County Health standards and have at the very least that density. She felt encouragement should be given some of the undeveloped vested plats to possibly give them an option to consider redesigning their plat in a manner that might give them an incentive to design it better, based on rule by design. The benefit is it allows someone to do a better job of a vested plat without loosing any rights of the plat. Since it is something they already have a right to, it would be a good encouragement to put in the plan. She offered to prepare some language for this. She noted those policy RU530 and RU531 needs to be rewritten to reflect the 1997 amendments.
Jim Hunter, Skokomish Valley Road, voiced his objection to the large area that has been designated as 1 to 20 acres. He thought Manke familys lawsuit against the WWGMHB over the forestland issue is just a back door way of designating another third of the county into long term forestry.
Holly Manke White referred to the mapping of Manke ownership (Map #2). She stated she would like to submit her comments in writing. Section 26 & 27, T 22N, R3W Manke land is surrounded on all sides by property proposed for one dwelling unit per five-acre density. All of the Manke lands are proposed for density of one dwelling unit per ten acres. She suspected this is just because they have not developed the property and it is an ongoing theme. When comparing surrounding properties and what they have been designated for, Mankes property is always 100% less density because it has not yet been subdivided. She did not believe this is an appropriate criterion. The property referred to is highly prized view property on Hood Canal and it should be zoned similarly to the surrounding properties. They should not be penalized with a lower density just because they have not yet subdivided. Section 22 to the west is similarly situated and has direct access to the Belfair Tahuya Road and utilities and it should be zoned as one dwelling unit per five acres as well. Manke ownership in Sections 1,2,3, 9,10, 11, 12, 17, 16, 15, and 14 in the same township and range is recommended for one dwelling unit per 20 acres. Yet, the entire ownership has been previously subdivided into five-acre tracts per large lot subdivision called Tahuya Estates recorded on November 8, 1990. The maps should be reflected to correct that change in status. Manke ownership in Sections 27, 26, 25, 24, 23, 11, 12, 13 and 14 in the same township and range is designated for one dwelling unit per 20 acres, yet all of the properties have access off the Holly Dewatto Road in addition to power and phone lines which were installed to the Mason-Kitsap line within the past five years. Manke Lumber dedicated easements in order to allow for a rural electrification project, which was funded by the federal government. There is no resource land contiguous to this property. The proposed density of one dwelling unit per 20 acres constitutes in their opinion a defactor forestry zone, which is not anticipated by the GMA. They believe the lands should be designated one dwelling unit per 10 acres. Clustering provisions for larger parcel 40 acres and up will serve to preserve open space and rural character. She offered to work with Sarah Smyth-McIntosh in developing a policy to include clustering provisions along with proposed timeline to develop the appropriate ordinance.
The gravel mine in Section 9, just outside of town is zoned at one dwelling unit per five acres. Yet it is a mineral resource land. In addition, the lands contiguous with it in Section 16 are zoned one dwelling unit per five acres. She proposed it should be one dwelling unit per 10 acres. She stressed that there are more parcels that are comparable to those just outlined.
70-foot lots surround Mason Lake and Manke Lumber Company has considerable ownership around the lake. There has been a discussion of having a tiering concept outside of those waterfront parcels. Their proposal would be to include the property within the transition zoning proposal.
State Senator Tim Sheldon asked for support in amending the Growth Management Act (GMA). The GMA was adopted in 1990 and has been changed several times by the legislature. He asked for support of Senate Bill 6681 which would allow a rural county like Mason County, after conferring with the City of Shelton Commission, to develop alternative methods of achieving the planning goals established by the GMA. Given the great proportion of long term private forestland, US Forest Service timberland and National Park service land, Mason County could easily show that rural densities would always remain low. Another factor that would clearly define Mason County is the fact that we are only one of five Washington State counties with only one incorporated city. Mason County has varied geography with mountains, inland waters and lakes that clearly limit the transportation system. If the County Commission adopts alternative methods of achieving planning goals based on local unique circumstances, a review of the new methods made by the state acting as a third party arbitrator of the methods. If the methods are approved the comprehensive plan and development regulations adopted by Mason County would be developed using the original goals of the act as well as the approved local goals. Any petition concerning whether or not a rural countys methods in achieving planning goals are in compliance with the GMA, the Hearings Board would be required to give great weight to the County Commissions decision on developing alternative planning goals and shall find that such methods are valid unless the Board can find by clear cogent and convincing evidence that the alternative methods will not meet the goals of the GMA. With support of the Senate Bill it could be a positive step in providing land use stability.
Randall Barcom was concerned about the Matlock area. He noted the land doesnt reflect very much privately owned land that is not in forestry. He estimated there is one-half to one percent of developable land in the area for small affordable parcels. He questioned what happens when the juniors or seniors move away and no young people move into the area. If new people dont move in it wont be able to support it. They need smaller parcels within a few mile radiuses of the school and store.
The Board noted that many of the uses that he is concerned about are permitted uses and would be allowed in the rural designation as it currently is.
Jay Hupp, Mason County Economic Development Council, asked if the new proposals, which were discussed at a workshop regarding rural businesses, would be entered in any form in the proposed changes for the Comprehensive Plan. Specifically, the intent was to make it easier for non-conforming businesses to expand. Yet in the details of making it easier the restrictions became tighter and tighter. An example is a proposal for a one-time expansion under the decision of the administrator and a maximum expansion could be 2,000 square feet.
The Board stated the current comprehensive plan includes a threshold of a maximum of 10,000 square foot. The County believes the Hearings Board has interpreted it as too large, but the Board has asked the Prosecutor for input on that.
Mike Glaser, Harstine Island E 1450 Ballow Road, explained his family moved at their property at the turn of the century. They are concerned about being able to hand their property down to their children and grandchildren. At the very eastern boundary of the County where he lives they have a very sparse population. He felt it would be too limited with five-acre parcels. There are half-acre parcels and one acre parcels in the area. He is located six miles from Fox Island in Pierce County and they have one-acre parcels there. In 1968 they lost the school because of the lack of population. Now the kids in order to get to the high school must board a bus at 6:20 a.m. and arrive at Shelton High School at 7:50 a.m. If they had a little more population it would be a better way of life for the people. He stated as a plumbing contractor in the fourth quarter of 1999 he had $400 of business in Mason County. The rest of his business was in Pierce County where the growth is located. In the first quarter of 2000 he had $1500 business in Mason County. He has to travel and concurs with Senator Sheldon. He felt that there is not much reason for the kids to stay around. They have to move out to get jobs. He expressed concerned about new businesses coming in to Mason County. There should be some provision made for some of the older families that would like to be able to have a way to pass the property on to their children. He was opposed to the five and 10-acre density. An acre of ground for a house is a good size property. He doesnt want to see Mason County over grown or overrun. He wants to make sure there is affordable housing for people and that there is enough tax base for county government to work.
Gary Hanson, Consulting Forester of Washington Timberland Management, explained he has in business for over 31 years in Mason County. He noted he has a lot of clients that are concerned about the impact of their property rights. He stated he has followed the process closely and when the initial consultants were hired for this process and they attempted to expand and explain he was appalled that they had minimal mapping abilities. He suggested that when the input is finalized and on to the Prosecutor and Hearings Board, that as much flexibility be infused in this criteria area level. As a forester he likes to promote forestry, but he is concerned about property rights. The 20-acre designation is startling. The public is frightened that things are too structured and fixed.
Janet Dawes wanted to point out that unlike other counties Mason County can use wetlands as part of the increasing densities. It does make a great deal of difference whether the surrounding properties are in or out of the UGA. She agreed with Mrs. Davis that it is a sensitive area, and not just the Theler Wetlands that are part of the Theler Center, but the surrounding properties that are in the floodplain and also have historically been lowlands and sensitive.
She referred to the consultants rectangle that was drawn at a previous meeting with the wetlands and under UGA densities if the wetland acreage is transferred and used for the bonus densities there is a much higher density than in the rural area. She agreed with the three points on page 2 on Sarah Smyth McIntoshs April 17 letter referring to Taylor Towne RAC. On the fourth point, the real question comes down to logical outer boundaries. It is allowable to develop undeveloped land within this area. It is not necessary to adhere to rural criteria. She felt the question comes down to the built environment and this is where the logical outer boundaries must be drawn. The rural densities have echoed what consultants have been saying to make sure there is a range. It is not easy to go from no zoning to suddenly having zone areas.
Drew Noble raised questions regarding the logging truck issue and commercial use of vehicles in rural areas. He understood there was discussion on noise regulations on trucks.
The Board interjected that there are recommendations in the plan that discusses businesses located in rural areas and housing equipment inside buildings and hours of service.
Mr. Noble spoke in opposition to regulations relating to logging trucks. Mason County is in a timber area and logging trucks run at all hours of the evening. He talked with individuals from Kittitas. The people were complaining that tractors were running during the night during harvest. The Board came up with an ordinance that told realtors to tell people buying in the area of the conditions.
Bill Hunter stated he agreed with most of the previous speakers. He followed up on the discussion by Mr. Noble that at one time there was Sunday closure on business. In a recreational county, if the businesses cant prosper, the countys cant prosper. He referred to the matrix where green houses private and non-commercial are allowed. He stated he felt he has commercial greenhouses.
The Board his use would be considered agricultural and it would be permitted everywhere except a hamlet or an urban growth area.
Bonnie Ells explained she is a proprietor of the Golden Pheasant Cafe Lounge. They want to be included in the RAC area. They will be submitting a letter on this request.
Cmmr. Cady/Olsen moved and seconded to continue the hearing to Tuesday, April 18, 2000; at 10 am to determine the time and location on the 25th. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye.
The regular meeting adjourned at 8:43 p.m.
Rebecca S. Rogers
Clerk of the Board
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
MASON COUNTY, WASHINGTON
John A. Bolender, Chairperson
Mary Jo Cady, Commissioner
Cynthia D. Olsen, Commissioner