Saturday, May 7, 2011


Sometimes good things come in the mail.

One of the pending cases I have before the Growth Management Hearings Board asks whether the County needs to consider the environment and Best Available Science when adopting new development regulations. 

In order to demonstrate the impact of the county's ordinance, I sought to supplement the record with additional information to assist the board in reaching its decision.  Information like:
  • the county's Best Available Science report,
  • back-to-back short plat applications in Lake Whatcom watershed filed in 1999, and
  • Gold Star's application for short plats and binding site plans in areas determined non-compliant with the Growth Management Act.
Whatcom County objected to this information being added to the record.  The Board sided with common sense.  In the words of the Board:
"The Board's role is to determine local jurisdictions' compliance with the GMA.  Implementation of GMA-related ordinances is ultimately the test of how well the ordinance upholds the GMA.  The short plat information may show the Board the implementation effects under former and current crtical areas ordinances."
Oh, there is so much information that I could share about implementation. 


  1. As part of the reconsideration of Title 16 in 2012, I would suggest a fresh look at the "Best Available Science Review..." linked to by Mr. Stalheim.

    It appears to me to be a CYA document designed to insulate the county from attacks based on its use of BAS in planning decisions.

    Without going into detail, it fails to perform that function.

    I think that the County does need to consider best available science, and it also needs to consider new guidance from the Corps of Engineers and the Department of Ecology, which on March 14 adopted the new Corps supplement and the attendant NTCHS manuals.

  2. Anonymous,

    Whatcom County is required to review Best Available Science (BAS) during the next review period. Because the Legislature changed the dates from 2011 to 2014, and now to 2016, there isn't any specific deadline for that review.

    The County has posted an updated Public Participation Plan that says this about the effort:

    S-8. Critical Areas/Best Available Science (RCW 36.70A.130(1)(c)). A review committee will be reactivated for this effort. However, many of the existing advisory committees will make recommendations including the Agriculture Advisory Committee, Lake Whatcom Watershed Advisory Committee, Shellfish and Marine advisory committees and others who are impacted by Best Available Science.

    See whole plan at