Blaine’s recently-adopted critical areas ordinance (CAO) falls within the state’s guidelines for wetland protection, according to a decision made Monday by the Washington State Growth Management Hearings Board.
The decision comes after Bellingham-based non-profit environmental group RE Sources filed an appeal last October against the city following Blaine City Council’s approval of the ordinance. The group claimed the city’s critical areas ordinance does not meet minimum wetland setback requirements based on “best available science” as dictated in the state’s growth management act (GMA) and enforced by the Washington state Department of Ecology (DOE).
The ordinance, approved by Blaine City Council last year, increases the standard buffer for category two wetlands from 50 feet to between 75 and 150 feet and increases the buffer for category three wetlands from 25 feet to between 50 and 100 feet. Category four wetlands, which had not previously been regulated by the city of Blaine, are now buffered from development by 25 feet.
Washington state requires cities and counties to review their development regulations every seven years as part of the GMA. That includes the revision of critical areas regulations and the requirement that counties and cities use the best available science in developing policies to protect environmentally sensitive areas.
Blaine city attorney Jon Sitkin, who represented the city in the appeal was not able to be reached for comment.