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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 City Planner 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 City Planner within one (1) working day following commencement of the emergency action. The City Planner shall determine if the action was allowable under this subsection and commence enforcement if not. Within one 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 Title 222 WAC, 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 non-conforming 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 “sequencing” methods stated in SMC 14.255.120(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 City Planner and including but not limited to:

1. English Ivy (Hedera helix);

2. Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor, R. procerus); and

3. Evergreen blackberry (Rubus laciniatus).

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 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 Department of 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 City Planner.

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, where the land has not lain idle so long that modifications to the hydrological regime are necessary to resume operations; and

S. Development within isolated Category III and IV wetlands less than 1,000 square feet in size.

T. Development within isolated Category III and IV wetlands between 1,000 square feet and 3,000 square feet in area shall be exempt from the normal sequencing process but shall be fully mitigated as required elsewhere in the critical area requirements.

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