Oroville extends Interim Critical Areas Ordinance

OROVILLE – The Oroville City Council approved another extension of the interim Critical Areas Ordinance at a public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

The extension is the latest in a long line of similar measures taken by the council as the Oroville Community Development Department and the Planning Commission work to address initial state agency comments directed at the interim ordinance and to incorporate state Department of Ecology’s new flexible buffer recommendations for small communities, according to Chris Branch, director of the Community Development Department.

The designation, classification and protection of Critical Areas utilizing the best available science are requirements of the Growth Management Act for all counties and cities in the state, said Branch prior to the public hearing to discuss the extension.

The intent of the ordinance is to “designate and classify ecologically sensitive and hazardous areas and to protect these areas and their functions and values in a manner that also allows reasonable use of private property.”

Branch said, “If it doesn’t have a lot of high habitat value the buffer can be reduced. The fish and wildlife conservation piece is mostly concerning the part of Tonasket Creek in the city limits, but we also included Nine Mile Creek in case we annex that far out.”

Branch said that the county actually includes more of the High Habitat Area because both Tonasket Creek and Nine Mile Creek are accessed by steelhead.

“Today the only piece of Tonasket Creek we have is the mouth which is at the Housing Authority property and development is already there,” Branch said.

The final ordinance also needs to include aquifer recharge and basically Oroville will be dealing with storm water, according to Branch

In summing up about the ordinance, Branch said, “It’s been written, it’s time to spend the next three months in the review process. This is another in the eight or nine extensions we’ve had to do every six months or when the interim ordinance is appealed.”

There was a vote by the council and the interim ordinance was extended for another six months.

The goals of the interim ordinance, which is available to view on the city’s website www.orovillewa.com under Public Documents, is to “A. Implement the Oroville Comprehensive Plan and the requirements of the Growth Management Act; B. Protect critical areas, in accordance with the Growth Management Act and through the application of best available science, as determined according to WAC 365-195-900 through 365-195-925, and in consultation with state and federal agencies and other qualified professionals; C. Protect the general public, resources and facilities from injury, loss of life, property damage or financial loss due to flooding, erosion, landslides, or steep slopes failure; D. Protect unique, fragile and valuable elements of the environment, including ground and surface waters, wetlands, and fish and wildlife and their habitats; E. Prevent cumulative adverse environmental impacts to water quality and availability, wetlands, and fish and wildlife habitat and F. Provide flexibility and attention to site-specific characteristics, so as to ensure reasonable use of property