40.450.010 Introduction

A.    Purpose.

    It is the purpose of this chapter to provide balanced wetland protection measures pursuant to the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA, RCW 36.70A.172) that:

1.    Include best available science to protect the functions and values of wetlands with special consideration to conservation or protection measures necessary to preserve or enhance anadromous fisheries;

2.    Further the goal of no net loss of wetland functions;

3.    Encourage restoration and enhancement of degraded and low quality wetlands;

4.    Provide a high level of protection for higher-quality wetlands;

5.    Complement state and federal wetland protective measures; and

6.    Allow reasonable use of property.

B.    Applicability.

1.    The provisions of this chapter apply to all lands, all land uses and development activity, and all structures and facilities in the county, whether or not a permit or permit authorization is required, and shall apply to every person, firm, partnership, corporation, group, governmental agency, or other entity that owns, leases, or administers land within the county. No person, company, agency, or applicant shall alter a wetland or wetland buffer except as consistent with this chapter.

2.    The county will not approve any permit or otherwise issue any authorization to alter the condition of any land, water, or vegetation, or to construct or alter any structure or improvement in, over, or on a wetland or wetland buffer, without first ensuring compliance with the requirements of this chapter, including, but not limited to, the following development permits:

a.    Building permit;

b.    Grading permit;

c.    Forest practices conversion permit regulated by Section 40.260.080;

d.    Conditional use permit;

e.    Short subdivision;

f.    Subdivision;

g.    Planned unit development;

h.    Site plan; or

i.    Zoning variance.

3.    Shoreline Master Program. Within shoreline jurisdiction, development may be allowed for those uses in the Shoreline Master Program (Chapter 40.460) either through a statement of exemption pursuant to Section 40.460.230(C) or an application with a wetlands review as part of the shoreline permit process.

4.    Reasonable Use Exceptions. The following exceptions shall apply in implementing the standards of this chapter, although the standards shall be applied to the maximum extent practicable to avoid and minimize impacts on wetland functions and values. Mitigation for unavoidable adverse impacts shall be required. The standards of this chapter shall not be used to preclude the following activities in wetland areas:

a.    The placement of a single-family residence and normal accessory structures on an otherwise legally buildable lot of record. Standards may be applied on established properties to limit the proposed location and size of structures, and proposed removal of vegetation.

(1)    The expansion of a home on a lot that does not show building or development envelopes, wetlands or wetland buffers on the recorded plat, not to exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the existing building footprint;

(2)    The replacement of single-wide mobile home with another dwelling and normal accessory structures; and

(3)    Fire hazard clearing recommended by the fire marshal, or consistent with written fire marshal or fire chief guidelines.

b.    The standards of this chapter shall not be used to deny all reasonable economic use of private property. The following criteria must be met in order to verify that all reasonable economic use of the property has been denied:

(1)    The application of this chapter would deny all reasonable economic use of the property;

(2)    No other reasonable economic use of the property has less impact on the wetland and buffer area;

(3)    Any wetland or buffer alteration is the minimum necessary to allow for reasonable economic use of the property; and

(4)    The inability of the applicant to derive reasonable economic use of the property is not the result of actions by the applicant after the date of adoption of the ordinance codified in this chapter.

c.    The standards of this chapter shall not be used to deny or reduce the number of lots of a proposed rural land division allowed under applicable zoning density.

(1)    Standards may be applied on established properties to limit the proposed location and size of structures and proposed removal of vegetation.

(2)    Land divisions in rural zoning districts (R-5, R-10 and R-20) may utilize the cluster provisions of Section 40.210.020(D).

d.    The application of this chapter shall not be used to deny a development proposal for a linear facility from a public agency or public utility, provided the agency or utility meets the following criteria:

(1)    There is no practical alternative to the proposed project with less impact on the wetland and buffer area; and

(2)    The application of this chapter would unreasonably restrict the ability to provide public utility services to the public.

e.    The reasonable use provisions in this chapter do not apply to wetlands protection within shoreline jurisdiction. In such cases, reasonable use requests shall be subject to the shoreline variance process pursuant to Section 40.460.260.

5.    Approval of a development permit application pursuant to the provisions of this chapter does not discharge the obligation of the applicant to comply with the provisions of this chapter.

(Amended: Ord. 2012-07-16)

C.    Exemptions.

1.    Exempt Activities and Impacts to Wetlands. All exempted activities shall use reasonable methods to avoid potential impacts to wetlands and buffers. Exemptions from permits are not exemptions from wetland stewardship responsibilities. The following developments, activities, and associated uses shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter; provided, that they are otherwise consistent with the provisions of other local, state, and federal laws and requirements:

a.    Reconstruction of damaged or destroyed structures within the same building footprint. Expansion or reconstruction within a new or expanded footprint that affects a nonexempt wetland or wetland buffer is subject to the provisions of this title.

b.    The harvesting or normal maintenance of vegetation in a manner that is not injurious to the natural reproduction of such vegetation.

c.    Existing agricultural activities and structures:

(1)    Agricultural activities and structures in operation at the time of adoption of the ordinance codified in this chapter that are affecting wetlands not associated with a riparian corridor are exempt from regulation under this chapter;

(2)    Changes in agricultural practices within the same “footprint” as the existing agricultural activities in subsection (C)(1)(c)(1) of this section, including reconstruction of existing agricultural structures, or construction of new agricultural structures, are exempt from regulation under this chapter;

(3)    Agricultural activities and structures in operation at the time of adoption of the ordinance codified in this chapter that are affecting wetlands associated with riparian corridors shall be regulated through Chapter 40.440, Habitat Conservation.

d.    The removal or eradication of noxious weeds so designated in Title 7 of this code or other exotic nuisance plants including non-native blackberries; provided, that ground disturbing heavy machinery (scraping, ripping, etc.,) is not used. Cutting, mowing, and ground disturbance with hand tools is allowed.

e.    Site investigative work necessary for land use application submittals such as surveys, soil logs, and percolation tests.

f.    Emergency clearing to abate immediate danger to persons or property. For emergency clearing of hazard trees, remove only that portion of the hazard tree as necessary to remediate the hazard.

g.    Clearing necessary for the emergency repair of utility or public facilities. Notification of emergency work that causes substantial degradation to functions and values must be reported in a timely manner.

h.    Clearing for operation, maintenance, or repair of existing utilities or public facilities that does not further increase the impact to, or encroach further within, the wetland or wetland buffer.

i.    Forest practices regulated by the State of Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) under the Forest Practices Rules (WAC Title 222), or regulated under Clark County Code Section 40.260.080, Forest Practices, except forest conversions and conversion option harvest plans.

j.    Clearing, as minimally necessary, for placement of fencing, private wells, septic systems or individual lot sewer, water, electrical, or utility connections in wetland buffers, where practical alternatives do not exist.

k.    Clearing, as minimally necessary, for stream bank restoration, for native replanting or enhancements in wetlands and wetland buffers.

l.    Clearing, as minimally necessary, for soil, water, vegetation and resource conservation projects having received an environmental permit from a public agency in wetlands and wetland buffers.

m.    Clearing, as minimally necessary, for creating a four (4) foot or narrower path using natural, wood-based or vegetated pervious surfacing in wetlands and wetland buffers.

n.    Land disturbance in wetlands and wetland buffers cumulatively less than five (5) cubic yards in volume and three hundred (300) square feet in area; provided, that the wetland hydroperiod is not significantly affected.

2.    Exempted Wetlands. This chapter shall not apply to the following wetlands:

a.    Small. Isolated Category III wetlands less than two thousand five hundred (2,500) square feet in area and isolated Category IV wetlands less than four thousand three hundred and fifty (4,350) square feet in area;

b.    Artificial. Wetlands created from non-wetland sites including, but not limited to, irrigation and drainage ditches, grass-lined swales, canals, detention facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, stormwater facilities, farm ponds, landscape amenities and unintentionally created wetlands created as a result of the construction of a public or private road, street, or highway after July 1, 1990; provided, that wetlands created as mitigation shall not be exempted;

c.    Riparian. Wetlands fully within five (5) feet, measured horizontally, of bank-full width for streams and the ordinary high water mark for lakes which are regulated under the State Shorelines Management Act (Chapter 90.58 RCW) or under Chapter 40.440, Habitat Conservation, are exempt.

(Amended: Ord. 2007-06-05)

D.    Interpretation.

1.    This chapter shall apply in addition to zoning and other regulations adopted by the county.

2.    When there is a conflict between any provisions of this chapter or any other regulations adopted by Clark County, that providing the most protection to affected critical areas shall apply.

3.    Compliance with this chapter does not constitute compliance with other federal, state and local regulations and permit requirements (for example, shoreline substantial development permits, hydraulic project approval (HPA) permits, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permits, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, or DOE Section 401 Water Quality Certification). The applicant is responsible for complying with all requirements, apart from the provisions of this chapter.

(Amended: Ord. 2006-05-27)