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The City of Snohomish is required by the Washington State Growth Management Act (Chapter 36.70A RCW) to designate environmentally critical areas and to adopt development regulations to assure the conservation of such areas. In compliance with this mandate, the City finds that environmentally critical areas characterize certain portions of Snohomish and its urban growth area. These critical areas include wetlands, habitat conservation areas, critical aquifer recharge areas, geologically hazardous areas, and frequently flooded areas. Accordingly, it is the purpose of the Critical Areas Code to:

A. Protect the functions and values of environmentally sensitive areas, while allowing for reasonable use of private property, through the application of the best available science.

B. Implement the Growth Management Act and the natural environment goals of the Comprehensive Plan.

C. Protect members of the public and public resources and facilities from injury, loss of life, or property damage due to landslides, steep slope failures, erosion, seismic events, or flooding.

D. Protect citizens and the unique, fragile, and valuable elements of the environment, including ground and surface waters, wetlands, anadromous fish species, and other fish and wildlife, and their habitats.

E. Prevent adverse and cumulative environmental impacts to critical areas, direct activities not dependent on critical area resources to less ecologically sensitive sites, and mitigate unavoidable impacts to critical areas by regulating alterations in and adjacent to critical areas and requiring specific mitigation measures to compensate for unavoidable impacts.

F. Protect species listed as threatened or endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 USC 1531 through 1534) and their habitats.

G. While the overall goal of this chapter and Chapters 14.260 through 14.280 SMC is to protect environmentally sensitive areas, those goals can conflict with the City’s obligation under the Washington State Growth Management Act to accommodate future growth. Therefore, the regulations in this and the other critical area chapters have been tempered to manage that conflict, including providing for deviations and variances to allow the accommodation of urban growth without encouraging urban sprawl and recognizing property rights, while still protecting the functionality of the critical areas. (Ord. 2368, 2019. Formerly 14.255.020)