GRANDVIEW - At Tuesday's Grandview City Council meeting Page Scott of the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments told the council members there's just one more step in the process before a critical areas ordinance can be adopted.
A public hearing is all that remains, and the council can approve the proposed ordinance if it is deemed the ordinance fits the city's needs.
Scott said there have been recent cases in the courts that are still being argued regarding similar ordinances.
However, the proposed ordinance written for the city of Grandview, she said, has in place proposed buffers that are larger than those at the center of the court cases.
The critical areas ordinance is required under the Growth Management Act, and the city of Grandview has in the proposed ordinance established where wetlands, aquifers and flood plains lie within the city limits, as well as the city's growth boundaries.
Scott said the proposed ordinance will better help the city of Grandview and future developers, giving the entities insight into areas that cannot be developed due to conservation efforts.
The Grandview wastewater treatment plant, said Scott, is shown to be in an area where wetlands exist. She assured the council that there is an exception in the Growth Management Act that allows public utilities to be exempted.
"The city of Grandview won't need a critical areas fee," said Scott.
She said the city has a $500 State Environmental Policy Act fee that is "...significantly higher than the same fee in other cities in the region." That is why a critical areas fee is not necessary.
Washington state, said Scott, has also excluded irrigation canals from the definition of fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, as well as critical areas.
Therefore, that exclusion is in the proposed ordinance for Grandview.
Scott said adopting the critical areas ordinance will help the city of Grandview maintain its competitive edge when applying for future grants and loans.
Another benefit to the ordinance, she said, is that the city, having defined its critical areas and conservation areas, has made it easier for interested property owners and citizens to access information regarding flood plains, wetlands and other critical areas.