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14.255.050 Exemptions.
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The following activities when occurring in critical areas shall be exempt from the Critical Areas Code; provided, that the activity must first be reviewed by the Planning Director to confirm that the exemption applies:

A. Emergency actions immediately necessary to prevent injury or property damage; provided, that the action minimizes impact to critical areas and buffers. The person undertaking the action shall notify the Planning Director within one (1) working day following commencement of the emergency action. The Planning Director shall determine if the action was allowable under this subsection and commence enforcement if not. Within one (1) year of the date of the emergency, the person undertaking the action shall fully mitigate any resulting impacts to the critical area and buffers in accordance with an approved critical area report and mitigation plan.

B. Normal operation, maintenance, or repair of existing structures, utilities, roads, levees, drainage systems, or similar improvements, including vegetation management, if the action does not alter or increase the impact to or encroach upon the critical area or buffer, and if the action accords with best management practices and maintenance and does not impact an endangered or threatened species.

C. Passive outdoor activities, such as recreation, education, and scientific research, that do not degrade the critical area.

D. Forest practices in accordance with Chapter 76.09 RCW and WAC Title 222, other than forest practice conversions.

E. Structural modifications of, additions to, or replacements of existing legal structures without increasing the impact to the critical area; provided, that the City’s regulations regarding legal nonconforming uses are complied with and such structural modifications shall not extend further into the critical area or buffer.

F. Within improved public rights-of-way or private street easements, construction, replacement, or modification of streets, utilities, lines, mains, equipment, or appurtenances, excluding electrical substations, are exempt from the first two (2) “sequencing” methods stated in SMC 14.255.100(E); provided, that actions that alter a wetland or watercourse, such as culverts or bridges, or that result in the transport of sediment or increased stormwater shall be subject to the following requirements wherever possible:

1. Critical area and/or buffer widths shall be increased equal to the width of the right-of-way improvement, including disturbed areas; and

2. Native vegetation shall be retained and/or replanted, per the City of Snohomish plant material list, along the right-of-way improvement.

G. Minor utility projects, such as placement of a utility pole, street sign, anchor, or vault, which do not significantly impact critical areas function or values, if constructed using best management practices.

H. Removal with hand labor and light equipment of invasive or state recognized noxious weeds or plants, as designated by the Planning Director and including but not limited to:

1. English Ivy (Hedera helix);

2. Himalayan blackberry (Rubus aremeniacus, R. bifrons);

3. Evergreen blackberry (Rubus laciniatus);

4. Bohemian knotweed (Polygonum x bohemicum); and

5. Scotch or Scot’s Broom (Sarothamnus scoparius).

I. Removal of trees which a qualified arborist, landscape architect, or forester has documented as posing a threat to public safety and which do not provide critical habitat such as eagle perches; provided, that removed trees are left on site.

J. Measures to control fire or halt the spread of disease or damaging insects, consistent with the State Forest Practices Act, Chapter 76.09 RCW; provided, that the removed vegetation shall be replaced with the same or similar species within one (1) year or species in accordance with City of Snohomish plant material list and an approved plan.

K. Application of herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers, if necessary; provided, that their use shall conform to Washington State Departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife Management recommendations and the regulations of the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and that written approval has been obtained from the Planning Director.

L. Minor clearing or digging necessary for surveys, soil logs, percolation tests, and similar activities; provided, that critical area impacts are minimized and disturbed areas are immediately restored.

M. Navigational aids and boundary markers.

N. Proposed developments that have undergone critical area review at a previous stage of permit review; provided, that the earlier permit has not expired and the proposed development has not significantly changed (in order to avoid duplicate review).

O. Harvesting of wild crops without injuring their natural reproduction, tilling the soil, planting crops, applying chemicals, or altering the critical area.

P. Conservation measures of soil, water, vegetation, fish, and other wildlife that do not adversely impact ecosystems.

Q. Required environmental impact remediation.

R. Existing and ongoing agricultural activities, as defined in RCW 84.34.020(2), where the land has not lain idle so long that modifications to the hydrological regime are necessary to resume operations. (Ord. 2368, 2019. Formerly 14.255.060)

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