The City Council of Snohomish finds as follows:
A. Critical areas contain valuable natural resources, provide natural scenic qualities important to the character of the community, perform important ecological functions and processes, and/or present a hazard to life and property. Identification, management, and protection of these areas are, therefore, necessary to protect the public health, safety and general welfare of citizens.
B. Beneficial biological and physical functions that critical areas provide include, but are not limited to: water quality protection and enhancement; fish and wildlife habitat; food chain support; flood storage; stormwater conveyance and attenuation; ground water recharge and discharge; erosion control; protection from hazards; historical and archaeological and aesthetic value protection; and recreation.
C. The City’s critical areas regulations, as set forth in the critical areas code, are designed to implement the comprehensive plan’s environmental protection element policies, regarding protecting functions and values of critical areas.
D. The critical areas code is based on the best available science as set forth in the Steward & Associates Study (May, 2004), prepared for the City by a team of qualified scientific professionals, as well as such state agency publications as the Example Code Provisions for Designating and Protecting Critical Areas, prepared by the Washington Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development (CTED), and the Guidance Document for the Establishment of Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas Ordinances, prepared by the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE).
E. The City deems it particularly important for the critical areas code to give special consideration to preserve or enhance anadromous fisheries, as supported by the City’s best available science study.
F. In addition to the best available scientific information, the Growth Management Act (GMA) also requires the City to consider various growth management policies in promulgating development regulations such as the critical areas code. In the City of Snohomish, the availability of affordable, developable lots will be considerably diminished, if certain regulations in the CTED and DOE recommendations are not modified to be less restrictive in such matters as wetland or stream buffer widths. Accordingly, where the critical areas code’s buffer widths differ from those in the Example Code Provisions for Designating and Protecting Critical Areas or in the recommendations of the Department of Ecology, the City finds that such deviations are necessary in order to implement the GMA’s policies in support of encouraging economic development, protecting property rights, reducing urban sprawl, increasing affordable housing, and accommodating urban growth. Additionally, the City finds that the best available science identifies no substantial risk to critical areas in enacting these alternative substantive requirements.