The board held a lengthy work session discussion on a Local Wetlands Inventory for the Arch Cape/Cove Beach community. County Planner Jennifer Bunch presented options that the board might consider in it's decision making process. The board may choose one of those options or choose to take no action which would leave current regulations in place including those that define "buildable" and "unbuildable" properties, establish wetland buffers and set-backs, and leave in place options for variance, but not in every instance. There is a difference of opinion between the Ecola Creek Watershed council and the Community Development Department leaving the commissioners to decide which strategy will best serve the county, appropriately protect wetlands while allowing property owners some flexibility, and lessen the threat of new measure 49 claims that could require the county to reimburse property owners for the value of land that could no longer be developed if the land use rules were to change.
The Arch Cape/Cove Beach Local Wetlands Inventory was commissioned by the Arch Cape Sanitary District and Columbia River Estuary Task Force and approved by the Oregon Department of State Lands in 2011. The Ecola Creek Watershed Council requested that the county adopt the inventory and development standards. The county Planning Commission, after several public meetings, recommended the board establish a Local Wetland Inventory Overlay containing uniform regulations covering all of the wetlands identified in the inventory deemed "significant." Staff of the Community Development Department has recommended that the county not adopt the inventory.
The board is scheduled to take action at its April 24 meeting.