Chapter 20.73
MINERAL RESOURCE LANDS SPECIAL DISTRICT (MRL)

Sections:

20.73.010    Purpose.

20.73.020    Application.

20.73.050    Permitted uses.

20.73.100    Accessory uses.

20.73.130    Administrative approval uses.

20.73.150    Conditional uses.

20.73.200    Prohibited uses.

20.73.250    Minimum lot size.

20.73.650    Development criteria.

20.73.651    Road access.

20.73.652    Repealed.

20.73.700    Performance standards.

20.73.701    Noise.

20.73.702    Surface mining operations within critical aquifer recharge areas.

20.73.703    Public safety.

20.73.010 Purpose.

The primary purpose of this district is to implement the mineral resource lands designation of the Comprehensive Plan, established pursuant to RCW 36.70A.170, by allowing the type of activity that encourages and supports the opportunity for the extraction of minerals in areas of Whatcom County designated as containing resources viable for long-term commercial extraction. This district is also designed to discourage incompatible uses from locating upon mineral resource lands where the extraction of minerals occurs or can be anticipated. (Ord. 2005-079 § 1, 2005; Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 92-029, 1992).

20.73.020 Application.

.021 The Mineral Resource Lands Special District is an overlay zone which covers only those areas designated as Mineral Resource Lands pursuant to the Washington State Growth Management Act. Any regulations contained herein which are more restrictive than those in the underlying zone districts or in the Shoreline Management Program shall apply. (Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 92-029, 1992).

20.73.050 Permitted uses.

.051 All permitted uses in the underlying zone districts are permitted except as expressly prohibited or made conditional, or further conditioned by this chapter.

.052 Deleted by 97-069.

.053 Gravel bar scalping projects within the jurisdiction of the Shoreline Management Program. (Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 92-079, 1992; Ord. 92-029, 1992).

20.73.100 Accessory uses.

.101 All accessory uses in the underlying zone districts are permitted as accessory uses. (Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 92-029, 1992).

20.73.130 Administrative approval uses.

The following uses are permitted subject to administrative approval pursuant to WCC 20.84.235:

.132 Rock crushing within Commercial and Rural Forestry Districts when located further than 2,000 feet from a rural or residential district. (Ord. 2015-016 Exh. A, 2015; Ord. 2003-061 § 2; Ord. 97-069, 1997).

20.73.150 Conditional uses.

.151 All conditional uses in the underlying zone districts shall remain conditional uses unless expressly prohibited by this chapter.

.152 Mineral processing facilities including rock crushing, asphalt and concrete batch plants and accessory washing and sorting.

.153 Surface mining subject to Washington State’s Surface Mining Act (Chapter 78.44 RCW); provided, that:

(1) The notification requirements of WCC 2.33.060(D)(2)(b) shall be expanded to all property owners within 2,000 feet of the external boundaries of the subject property.

(2) At minimum, the activity adheres to the development and performance standards of WCC 20.73.650 and 20.73.700. In addition, no excavation shall occur within the five-year zone of contribution for designated wellhead protection areas. Excavations may occur within the 10-year zone of contribution outside of the five-year zone of contribution if they are not within 10 vertical feet of the seasonal high water table. If a fixed radii method is used to delineate a wellhead protection area, the surface mining applicant may elect to more precisely delineate the wellhead protection boundary using an analytical model; provided, that the delineated boundary proposed by the surface mining applicant is prepared by a professional hydrogeologist; and further provided, that the delineated boundary has been reviewed and approved by the Washington State Department of Health. The hydrogeologist shall be selected by mutual agreement of the county, water purveyor, and applicant; provided, if agreement cannot be reached the applicant shall select a consultant from a list of no less than three qualified consultants supplied by the county and water purveyor.

(3) Buffers are established of sufficient size and with sufficient vegetation or berming to ensure that noise, dust, noxious weeds and other impacts to surrounding property owners are within applicable regulations and performance standards. When completing a reclamation segment, buffers may be reduced for a three-month period to establish the final reclaimed topography.

(4) The applicant provides insurance policies or a similar type of protection as appropriate to cover potential liabilities associated with the proposed activity; renewals of bonds or insurance shall be submitted upon expiration of previous bonds or insurance. The bonding agent shall notify the county on any change of status in the bond.

(5) Application of additional site specific conditions may be required to mitigate potential impacts that are not otherwise regulated through WCC 20.73.650 and 20.73.700 or through federal, state, or local regulations.

(6) Notice of the decision shall be mailed to all property owners within 2,000 feet of the external boundaries of the subject property within two days of issuance of the decision. The applicant shall provide typed, self-adhering mailing labels with the names and addresses of all property owners within 2,000 feet of the subject property with the application to facilitate the notice.

(7) Where the underlying zoning is Rural Forestry or Commercial Forestry, any mineral extraction permit shall include the condition that no greater than 40 acres can be mined within the permitted area at any one time. Additional acreage may only be added after an equal amount of previously mined land has met reclamation criteria as identified on an approved Department of Natural Resources surface mining reclamation permit, less the area of any roads constructed in previously mined land, to access a newly permitted area.

(8) When mineral extraction is proposed on a parcel that was not designated Mineral Resource Lands prior to January 1, 2015, all existing mines on parcels contiguous to and held by more than one percent common beneficial ownership or beneficial interest with the proposed mine shall be in complete compliance with all operating permits and regulations before extraction of the proposed mine may commence. (Ord. 2015-016 Exh. A, 2015; Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 92-079, 1992; Ord. 92-029, 1992).

20.73.200 Prohibited uses.

.201 All other uses. (Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 92-029, 1992).

20.73.250 Minimum lot size.

.251 All divisions of land in the Mineral Resource Lands Special District shall be approved in accordance with the local and state subdivision laws. No division which creates any parcel of less area than 20 acres, less roads, shall be permitted except when the underlying zone is agricultural or Commercial Forestry; then it shall be 40 acres, less roads. (Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 92-079, 1992; Ord. 92-029, 1992).

20.73.650 Development criteria.

(Ord. 96-056 Att. A § A1, 1996).

20.73.651 Road access.

For surface mining operations, access on any public right-of-way shall be paved in accordance with the county engineering division or State Department of Transportation Development Standards, as appropriate. (Ord. 2013-057 § 1 (Exh. A), 2013; Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 92-079, 1992).

20.73.652 Road use.

Repealed by Ord. 97-069. (Ord. 92-079, 1992).

20.73.700 Performance standards.

20.73.701 Noise.

(1) No development of activity shall exceed the maximum environmental noise levels established by Chapter 173-60 WAC.

(2) Noise associated with surface mining may constitute a nuisance or a public health concern, therefore, when surface mining activity is within or adjacent to a Rural or Residential zone, hours of operation for excavating, processing, and loading shall be prohibited on Sundays and the legal holidays of Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving, and limited to between 6:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday – Saturday; provided, that the surface mining operation may continue beyond the stated time if the noise created is less than the ambient night time noise levels for that area; and further provided, that the following activities are exempt from these requirements:

(a) Excavation and loading during and connected to flooding emergencies, and

(b) Early morning (5:00 a.m.) processing of ready mix concrete as necessary to provide beneficial concrete strength (exempt Monday through Saturday only), and

(c) Early morning (5:00 a.m.) work in preparation for hot mix asphalt production and loading (exempt Monday through Saturday only), and

(d) Activity under public contract when in the public interest. (Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 92-079, 1992).

20.73.702 Surface mining operations within critical aquifer recharge areas.

The purpose of this section is to protect critical aquifer recharge areas as required by RCW 36.70A.060(2). Any surface mining operation within a critical aquifer recharge area (as defined in the Critical Areas Ordinance and to include any designated wellhead protection area) shall meet the following requirements:

(1) Surface mining operations may not excavate within 300 horizontal feet from any pre-existing well used as a potable water supply.

(2) No new mineral processing or mining support activities or facilities to include parking, storage, maintenance, fueling and washing of mobile equipment, fuel storage, and no newly situated stationary and semimobile equipment shall locate or occur within the five-year zone of contribution for designated wellhead protection areas. Wellhead protection boundaries may be adjusted in accordance with WCC 20.73.153(2).

(3) Fencing, or some comparable deterrent, shall be installed to prevent unauthorized dumping of any materials within surface mining operations.

(4) Surface mines shall not use any off-site materials for backfill or reclamation without first acquiring either a grade and fill permit or a landfill permit from the county as deemed appropriate by the administrator. Any fill material must be nonnoxious, nontoxic, nonflammable, and noncombustible.

(5) Parking, storage, maintenance, fueling, and washing of mobile equipment, fuel storage and all newly situated stationary and semimobile equipment shall be located at least 100 feet away from any exposed water table, and

(a) At least 20 feet above the seasonal high ground water level, or

(b) Located upon unexcavated land, or

(c) Located within lines and bermed areas with adequate capacity to accommodate, contain, and allow the removal of chemical spills; provided, that these provisions shall not apply to dredging equipment.

(6) Fuel tanks and oil drums shall be double containment construction or protected by bermed areas having adequate capacity to accommodate, contain, and allow the removal of chemical spills. Fuel nozzles shall not contain locking open devices. Fuel storage shall be above ground.

(7) All operations shall maintain a fuels/hazardous waste management plan maintained by the operator and available on the site at all times.

(8) On-site truck and equipment wash runoff shall be routed to retention facilities equipped with an oil-water separator or equivalent prior to its release to settling ponds.

Noncontaminated process water used for gravel washing shall be routed to settling ponds to minimize off-site discharges.

(9) An approved general permit from the Department of Ecology for process and stormwater discharge may substitute for requirements (5) through (8) above, unless it is determined based on site specific review that the provisions of (5) through (8) are necessary to meet the intent of this section. (Ord. 2017-030 § 1 (Exh. F), 2017; Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 92-079, 1992).

20.73.703 Public safety.

Owners of surface mines shall ensure that their operation(s) will not be hazardous to neighboring uses. Fencing or other access barriers may be required by the county to ensure public safety. (Ord. 97-069, 1997; Ord. 92-079, 1992).