Chapter 14.09


14.09.010    Short title.

14.09.020    Purpose.

14.09.030    Administration.

14.09.040    Compliance with regulations.

14.09.050    Scope.

14.09.060    Definitions.

14.09.070    Eligible lands.

14.09.080    Ineligible lands.

14.09.090    Application and contents.

14.09.100    Multiple parcels.

14.09.110    Application review process.

14.09.120    Land purchased or transferred while application is pending.

14.09.130    State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).

14.09.140    Forest management practices.

14.09.150    Forest management plan – Required.

14.09.160    Forest management plan guidelines.

14.09.170    Improvements.

14.09.180    Open space agreement.

14.09.190    Minimum participation period.

14.09.200    Change in use.

14.09.210    Notice of decision.

14.09.220    Request for information.

14.09.230    Continuing enrollment upon sale or transfer of ownership.

14.09.240    Appeals.

14.09.250    Enforcement.

14.09.010 Short title.

This chapter shall be known and cited as the “open space timber program.” (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.020 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to encourage the maintenance, preservation, conservation, and otherwise continue in existence adequate open space timber lands devoted primarily to the growth and harvest of timber for commercial purposes, and to assure the use and enjoyment of natural resource and scenic beauty for the economic and social well-being of the citizens of Okanogan County. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.030 Administration.

The planning director of the Okanogan County office of planning and development (“department”), or designee, is vested with the duty of administering, implementing, and interpreting the provisions of this chapter. The planning director or designee may prepare and/or require the use of such forms and information as deemed necessary to administer the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.040 Compliance with regulations.

Lands proposed for acceptance into the open space timber program shall be in full compliance with all applicable Okanogan County codes. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.050 Scope.

This chapter shall apply to all public and private lands situated within the unincorporated portions of Okanogan County over which Okanogan County has jurisdiction under the constitutions and laws of the state of Washington and of the United States and shall set forth minimum standards in addition to such other standards that may be applicable. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.060 Definitions.

Those definitions set forth in RCW 84.34.020, Chapter 76.09 RCW, WAC 458-30-200, and WAC Title 222 as adopted and hereafter amended, are hereby incorporated by reference and shall govern and control the application and interpretation of this chapter. In the case of reference to a specific Okanogan County Code regulation, the definitions within the referenced regulation (for example, the shoreline master program) shall prevail. The following definitions also apply:

A. “Assessor” means the Okanogan County assessor.

B. “Board” means the Okanogan board of county commissioners.

C. “Commercial tree species” means any species which is capable of producing a merchantable stand of timber on a particular site, or which is being grown as part of a Christmas tree or ornamental treegrowing operation (Chapter 222-16 WAC).

D. “Commission” means the Okanogan County regional planning commission.

E. “Contiguous” means land adjoining and touching other property held by the same ownership. Land divided by a public or private road, creek, or stream shall be considered contiguous.

F. “Department” means the Okanogan County office of planning and development.

G. “Merchantable stand of timber” means a stand of trees that will yield logs and/or fiber suitable in size and quality for the production of lumber, plywood, pulp or other forest products and of sufficient value at least to cover all costs of harvest and transportation to available markets (Chapter 222-16 WAC).

H. “Planning director” means the planning director of the Okanogan County office of planning and development.

I. “Program” means the open space timber program. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.070 Eligible lands.

All lands within the county are eligible to be reviewed for enrollment in the program; provided, that any parcel of land of five or more acres, or multiple parcels of land that are contiguous and total five or more acres, but less than 20 acres, which is/are devoted primarily to the growth and harvest of a commercial tree species for commercial purposes. Eligible lands shall mean only those portions of a parcel(s) devoted to commercial timber purposes. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.080 Ineligible lands.

The following lands, or portions thereof, are not eligible for enrollment under this chapter:

A. Any parcel or multiple parcels which does/do not contain a minimum of five acres;

B. Any parcel, or multiple parcels which are not devoted primarily to the growth and harvest of a commercial tree species for commercial purposes;

C. Any parcel, or multiple parcels which cannot support the growth and harvest of a commercial tree species for commercial purposes;

D. Those portions of land not covered under the forest management plan;

E. Any parcel which is not in compliance with all Okanogan County land use codes. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.090 Application and contents.

Applications for enrollment under this chapter, together with the specified fee, shall be filed with the department. The accuracy and completeness of the application shall be the responsibility of the applicant. The application shall, at a minimum, contain the following:

A. Application fee as adopted by the Okanogan County fee schedule;

B. Completed and signed Okanogan County land use application form;

C. Completed and signed Washington State Department of Revenue application, if required;

D. The name, address, and phone number of the landowner/taxpayer, or authorized representative (proof of authorization may be required);

E. The signature of the landowner/taxpayer, or authorized representative (proof of authorization may be required);

F. Site plan consistent with the requirements of OCC 14.12.160, unless specifically waived by the planning director;

G. Vicinity map with north arrow denoting the general area of the lands showing the location of the property involved, with directions to the property;

H. The total number of acres considered for enrollment;

I. A copy of a recorded deed describing the property and identifying the owner;

J. A list of all adjacent property owners within 300 feet of the outer boundaries of the property to be considered for enrollment. The list shall include the land owners’ names and addresses;

K. A forest management plan consistent with the requirements of OCC 14.09.150 and 14.09.160;

L. A certification of payment of property taxes will be required from the county treasurer prior to recording of the open space agreement. The certification must indicate that all taxes, assessments, fees, fines, penalties, and/or judgments, outstanding against a parcel of land have been satisfied. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.100 Multiple parcels.

Multiple adjacent parcels shall be evaluated as a single parcel for purposes of the program, unless the landowner requests that each parcel be evaluated separately, provided the requirements of OCC 14.09.070 are met. Multiple parcels which are considered a single parcel under this program must be in the same ownership. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.110 Application review process.

The following time line shall be used for the processing of all applications for enrollment:

A. Applications for enrollment under this chapter may be made any time during the current year with the assessment of the land in its enrolled status becoming effective in year two for taxes payable in year three. (For example: An owner submits an application for enrollment on April 1, 2002. If approved for enrollment, the qualifying land would be assessed the new rating for year 2003, taxes payable in 2004.)

B. An application shall be effective for six months. The continuance of an application beyond six months shall constitute a new application and new application fees apply. The planning director may waive the application fee or extend the application six months, if the planning director determines that administrative review is responsible for the application delay or circumstances arise which necessitate an extension.

C. Within 14 days of submitting a complete and vested application, the department shall:

1. Set the date and time for a public hearing before the commission;

2. Circulate notice of the application and public hearing to all property owners within 300 feet of the exterior boundaries of the property considered for enrollment;

3. Circulate notice of the application and public hearing to county, state, and federal agencies with expertise or interest, for a 30-day comment and review period;

D. At least 10 days prior to the public hearing, the department shall transmit a written report, findings of fact, and recommendation to the commission;

E. The commission shall, at a public hearing:

1. Recommend approval or denial of the application; or

2. Table and continue at a later date; or

3. Request additional information.

F. Within 30 days following the receipt of the commission’s recommendation, the board shall, at a public meeting:

1. Approve or deny the application; or

2. Table and continue at a later date; or

3. Request additional information. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.120 Land purchased or transferred while application is pending.

In the event a parcel is conveyed while approval of a timely application is pending, the purchaser or transferee shall, upon written request to the department, be given the same consideration as the original applicant. The purchaser or transferee shall assume the original applicant’s rights and responsibilities in the application process. The purchaser or transferee shall be required to satisfy all requirements that otherwise would have been required. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.130 State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).

Applications for enrollment into the open space program (Chapter 84.34 RCW) are categorically exempt from review under the State Environmental Policy Act (WAC 197-11-800(6)(c)). (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.140 Forest management practices.

Forest management practices and reforestation methods shall be consistent with the provisions of Chapter 76.09 RCW, Forest Practices Act, and WAC Title 222, Forest Practices Board, as adopted or hereafter amended. Any violation of Chapter 76.09 RCW and/or WAC Title 222 may be cause for removal of the property from the program, subject to the provisions of OCC 14.09.250. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.150 Forest management plan – Required.

A. An application for enrollment in the program must be accompanied by a forest management plan. The plan may be prepared by:

1. A professional forester who possesses a degree in forestry or related field, or has adequate working experience and/or qualifications in forestry management; or

2. The landowner of the property proposed for enrollment who has adequate knowledge of forestry management and has made an effort to become a competent steward of the land; provided, that all requirements of OCC 14.09.160 have been met. A narrative statement summarizing past experience and activity of the landowner in growing and harvesting timber and current and continuing forestry activities shall be included in the application for enrollment. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.160 Forest management plan guidelines.

A forest management plan is required for all applications for enrollment in the program. The planning director shall determine whether the plan adequately addresses all of the following requirements prior to vesting the application. Any plan which does not adequately address the following requirements shall be returned to the applicant for additions or revisions.

A. Goals and Objectives Statement.

1. The foundation of the plan is the establishment and documentation of the goals and objectives of the landowner, and the intentions for the property. The goals and objectives of the land must be consistent with the commercial production and harvest of the timber stand.

B. Forest Mapping and Inventory.

1. The date or dates of acquisition of the property;

2. A vicinity map identifying the general location of the property;

3. An aerial photograph;

4. Site plan consistent with the requirements of OCC 14.12.160 unless waived by the planning director;

5. A photo overlay or detailed map delineating forest types according to management needs, including species type and age, diversity, density, and amount of existing timber resources found on the property;

6. Soil type, erosion, slope, aspect, and productivity information, which shall include the ability of each soil type to support specific types of timber stands;

7. Identification of all riparian, wetland, and floodplain areas;

8. Whether the land has been used for grazing;

9. Whether the land and the applicant are in compliance with the restocking, forest management, fire protection, insect and disease control, weed control, and forest debris provisions of RCW Title 76, or other applicable rules;

10. Whether the land is subject to forest fire protection assessments pursuant to RCW 76.04.610;

11. Whether the land is subject to a lease, option, or other right that permits it to be used for a purpose other than growing and harvesting timber.

C. Narrative history of the site.

D. Site Specific Management Problems.

1. Noxious weed control, past and present;

2. Fire protection;

3. Flooding control;

4. Erosion control;

5. Storm water management;

6. Animal and insect damage control;

7. Disease control.

E. Timber Management Recommendations by Timber Stand.

1. Timber type, quantity, diversity, and quality;

2. Site preparation;

3. Fertilization;

4. Precipitation and shading requirements of each proposed timber type;

5. Brush abatement;

6. Pruning and thinning schedule, both precommercial and commercial;

7. Reforestation and restocking methods.

F. Implementation Plan.

1. Schedule of each proposed management practice (a commitment to specific harvest dates is not required);

2. Provisions for periodic updating of the plan. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.170 Improvements.

When determining eligibility of a parcel for enrollment under this chapter that includes structural improvements, a one-acre minimum improvement area or homesite will be excluded and not enrolled under this chapter. This improved area or potentially improved area will be assessed at market value as determined by the assessor. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.180 Open space agreement.

Upon approval by the board, an open space agreement between the county and landowner shall be signed and recorded with the auditor and may contain the conditions of continued enrollment under this chapter. The agreement to tax land according to its current use is not a contract between the owners and the county. This agreement can be abrogated, annulled, or cancelled at any time by the state legislature in which event no additional tax, interest, and/or penalty shall be imposed, as specified by WAC 458-30-355.

A. Within five calendar days after the approval of the application for enrollment under this chapter, the department shall deliver by certified mail, return receipt requested, the agreement to the owner for signature.

B. The owner may accept or reject the agreement.

C. If accepted, the agreement shall be signed and returned to the department within 30 days after receipt. If the agreement is not returned to the department within 30 days after receipt, the county shall presume the agreement has been rejected. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.190 Minimum participation period.

When land has been enrolled in the program, it shall remain under such classification and shall not be applied to another use except as provided by RCW 84.34.070(2), for at least 10 years from the date of the recording of the open space agreement and shall continue under such classification until and unless withdrawn from the classification after notice of request for withdrawal shall be made by the owner. During any year after eight years of the initial 10-year classification period have elapsed, notice of request for withdrawal of all or a portion of the land may be given by the owner to the assessor. In the event that a portion of a parcel is removed from classification, the remaining portion must meet the same requirements as did the entire parcel when such land was originally granted classification pursuant to this program. The assessor shall, when two assessment years have elapsed following the date of receipt of such notice, withdraw such land from such classification and the land shall be subject to the additional tax and applicable interest due under RCW 84.34.108. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.200 Change in use.

When land which has been classified under this chapter is applied to some other use, such landowner shall notify the assessor within 60 days of such change and shall be subject to the provisions of RCW 84.34.080. If the assessor determines that such changes to the timber production or the forest management plan are significant, the assessor may refer such changes to the commission for review and recommendation to the board. A new open space agreement may be required. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.210 Notice of decision.

The department shall notify the assessor and the landowner of the approval of an application for enrollment under this chapter. All denials of an application shall be in writing to the landowner and shall include the reasons for denial. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.220 Request for information.

The assessor and/or department may require an owner of land enrolled under this chapter to submit data relevant to the use of the land or other information pertinent to the continued classification of the land, as specified by WAC 458-30-270. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.230 Continuing enrollment upon sale or transfer of ownership.

Property enrolled under this chapter may be sold or transferred to new owners subject to the provisions of WAC 458-30-275. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.240 Appeals.

If an application for classification or reclassification of land under this chapter is denied by the board in whole or in part, the applicant may appeal to Okanogan County superior court as specified by WAC 458-30-250(4)(b). (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).

14.09.250 Enforcement.

Property which has been approved under this chapter, but which is found to be in violation of any terms of the open space agreement or condition of enrollment, may be removed from the program and all applicable fees, penalties, and interest shall become due pursuant to Chapter 84.34 RCW. (Ord. 2002-6 § 1, 2002).