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Growth Management Act Compliance

Thurston County Compliance with the Growth Management Actwa map and gma

On July 20, 2005, the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board (Hearings Board) ruled that Thurston County’s Comprehensive Plan and development regulations do not comply with the 1990 Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA).

After the Hearings Board’s ruling, Thurston County went to work immediately. The Board of County Commissioners placed a temporary moratorium on new subdivisions in unincorporated areas to keep all their options open and allow staff members to work with a fixed target as they diagnose the situation and study solutions. The Board of County Commissioners also directed staff to begin work to achieve compliance with the GMA. The Board of County Commissioners directed staff to focus on issues identified by the Hearings Board related to:

The Hearings Board has given Thurston County until May 30, 2007 to achieve compliance for the Rural Lands projects; and until August 28, 2007 to achieve compliance for the Urban Growth Area Project.

On September 12, 2005, Thurston County appealed the Hearings Board’s decision. On April 3, 2007 the Washington State Court of Appeals issued its opinion which both reversed and sustained the Hearing Board’s July 20, 2005 decision. On April 5, 2007 the Board of County Commissioners held an executive session to be briefed by legal council regarding the Court of Appeals recent decision. To read the entire Court of Appeals decision in PDF format click here.

After being briefed on the Court of Appeals decision the Board of County Commissioners decided to proceed to public hearing with the following projects: LAMIRD (Limited Areas of More Intensive Rural Development), Long Term Agricultural Lands Designation Criteria, and Rural Rezoning. Following the public hearings held on these projects Resolutions and Ordinances amending the Thurston County Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Map, and Development Regulations were adopted (Please view each projects specific webpage, listed above, for exact dates and copies of the Resolutions and Ordinances.) Long Term Agricultural Lands Designation Criteria and the Rural Rezoning Amendments go before the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board (WWGMHB) for a compliance hearing on Friday September 21st. The LAMIRD project is scheduled to go before the WWGMHB for a compliance hearing on October 15th. Staff is continuing work on the Urban Growth Area evaluation and potential resizing project. The moratorium is still in effect for some parcels within the Urban Growth Area, and will likely remain so until that project is completed. These matters will be addressed in the future.

Clearly, a tremendous amount of work must be accomplished to achieve compliance with the Hearings Board's ruling. The challenge involves trying to meet legal obligations and pursue a long-term vision for Thurston County while recognizing the rights and aspirations of individual property owners.

This website provides information about the Hearings Board’s ruling and the County’s response. The Development Services Department further invites you to share your ideas and knowledge as the important responsibility of achieving compliance with the GMA is addressed. Use the left-hand navigation bar to learn more about the four key efforts that are underway, to find out about public involvement efforts, and to find answers to frequently asked questions. Please visit this website often for updates.

Contact Us

Interested Parties: If you would like to be added to our Web Mail list, please click here. Staff contacts: Jeremy Davis, Associate Planner. Phone: (360) 867-2103 / E-mail: davisj@co.thurston.wa.us; or Christy Osborn, Associate Planner, (360) 754-3355 ext. 5477 / E-mail: osbornc@co.thurston.wa.us.

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