Wetlands changes slated for hearing

Wider buffers are proposed.

The city will host a public hearing to discuss changes to wetland and stream protections and other issues affecting the Critical Areas Ordinance today.

With the state’s mandated Dec. 1 deadline looming, city planners hope to include more residents’ comments as they finish the ordinance.

Under the proposals, stream buffer zones would swell from 50 feet to up to 150 feet under the proposed ordinance. Current wetland buffers range between 25 and 150 feet. The proposed changes would boost protected wetland areas to within a range of 35 to 200 feet.

The ordinance update is required by the state Growth Management Act and considers various city geographical and habitat policies. City planner Libby Hudson doubts the city, along with many other Washington communities, will meet the deadline.

“I hope we can adopt (the ordinance) by the end of the year, but it may move into January,” she said. The delay could jeopardize the city’s eligibility for state funds, she added.

Public comment on the draft Critical Areas Ordinance begins at 6 p.m. Nov. 17 in the council chambers.

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