Following our Citizen Advisory Group meeting on October 1st, staff is finalizing policy and implementation measure items for the November 5th Planning Commission hearing.
Work tasks related to the November 5th hearing by in large focus on Goal 5 (Natural Resources, Scenic and Historic Areas, and Open Spaces). While most of the proposed updates involve including or excluding information as is relevant to today’s planning program, there are also some critical decisions being made that will impact permitting in the future.
Here are a summary of Goal 5 issues being covered in this series of updates:
- Removing references to the National Wetland Inventory and replacing with the Statewide Wetland Inventory. The state inventory includes the national inventory as well as some additional information, making it a more comprehensive resource. This is a required update.
- Replacing any leftover references to the old Gorge Overlay Zone with references to the National Scenic Area and Columbia River Gorge Commission Management Plan. This change does not impact current practice, but rather offers clarity and consistency with current practice.
- Transitioning our aggregate resources protections/process from OAR 660 Division 16 to Division 23. This is a required update. The primary impact is to define the Division 23 process for the creation of new significant aggregate sites. This may include some additional steps that were not required in the past, which in turn, may result in increased time to process an application and increased cost to the applicant who may need support from an outside party in assembling the application.
- Decoupling riparian areas and wetlands in the policy section to make clear some different reporting requirements.
- Adding reporting requirements from Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to our policy on Oregon Scenic Waterways (John Day and Deschutes rivers).
- Adding a policy about Oregon Recreation Trails to ensure, if one is designated in Wasco County, it is clear what the rules that govern permitting are.
- Adding a policy and implementation strategies for Natural Areas. They are currently protected within Environmental Protection District 7. This additional language makes that clear as well as where the inventory for those items originates from.
- Adding a policy on energy sources. Goal 13 (Energy Conservation) is also a part of this set of updates, but is different from Goal 5 energy related issues. The new policy and implementation measures make it clear that when new energy facilities are approved they become Goal 5 resources that carry with them some requirements for protection. This update is an effort to be transparent and consistent with state law.
- Modifications to policy and implementation on open space to be consistent with similar work done in other Goals.
- Strength scenic view policy by making it clear what the process is to add new sites as well the process to evaluate these resources during development review.
- Clearly identify the White River as a federally designated Wild and Scenic River and ensure consistency with Oregon Administrative Rules 660-023-0120. When the Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1983, management plan for the White River was not yet complete. Goal 5 rules require Wasco County protections for the White River to be consistent with that management plan. To ensure adequate protections, staff has taking the White River through an ESEE (Economic, Social, Environmental and Energy) analysis to determine potential conflicts and the best path for mitigation of those conflicts. Staff is recommending Wasco County continue to protect the White River through the Environmental Protection District 7, which requires all permitted uses be processed as a conditional use.
Goal 5 is a complicated Goal with fifteen resources that must be inventoried and protected through prescribed processes. These new policies will have an impact on the ways Wasco County Planning implements protections through development application reviews. We encourage you to submit comments ahead of the November 5th hearing or participated in person.
A packet with proposed updates will be available one week before the hearing on the Wasco County website Planning Commission Agendas and Minutes page. You can also review the Citizen Advisory Group packet from this month to see early recommendations.