Goskagit

MOUNT VERNON — The Skagit County Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 on Monday to approve amendments to the county’s comprehensive plan, capping a process that had been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioners Ron Wesen and Ken Dahlstedt voted to adopt the amendments, while Lisa Janicki voted against.

“I think all of them will have benefits going forward,” Wesen said Tuesday.

It was a milestone in a process that began in 2019 to take up potential amendments — including several proposed by residents — that amend or clarify the county’s comprehensive plan.

Among the amendments approved was one that directs county staff to explore removing barriers that may prevent Guemes Island residents from setting up rainwater catchment systems.

The commissioners chose not to amend the code regarding restrictions on drilling wells on Guemes Island, remanding to staff further study of that issue.

Late last year, members of the Guemes Island Planning Advisory Committee proposed amendments to the county’s comprehensive plan to relax regulations on using rainwater as a domestic water source and to enforce county code that requires pre-approval to dig new wells.

The commissioners did not move forward with a proposal to restrict development near great blue heron habitats.

Wesen said the county Planning Commission’s recommendation against the proposal carried weight.

“The reason we have a planning commission is to hear comments and talk to people in the community and come to a recommendation,” he said. “They said there aren’t any pressing issues with blue herons in this area. March Point rookery is one of the biggest on the West Coast. We have a beautiful area and seem to have quite a few (herons) in the area.”

Further amendments were either adopted or referred to other departments.

The amendment process allows county staff or members of the public to propose changes to the county’s comprehensive plan.

Proposals are reviewed by the seven-person county Planning Commission, which decides whether to recommend them to the commissioners.

Reporter Trevor Pyle: 360-416-2156, tpyle@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @goskagit, Facebook.com/bytrevorpyle

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