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A. All treatment of critical area shall be in accordance with best available science as defined in WAC 365-195-900 through 365-195-925.

B. Critical areas and their buffers shall be left undisturbed, except that the following may be permitted if best management practices are used:

1. Authorized functional restoration or enhancement, including native vegetation associated with low impact development facilities, removal of invasive species, and trimming of significant trees in a manner consistent with best horticultural practices, that does not negatively impact the trees’ health and survivability;

2. In buffers: utility poles and utility lines which do not require excavation or clearing;

3. In the outer fifty (50) percent of buffers: permeable-surfaced walkways, trails, and minimal wildlife viewing structures;

4. Developments for which mitigation is allowed per subsection E of this section; and

5. Other uses specifically authorized by the Critical Areas Code.

C. No development shall occur which results in a net loss of the functions or values of any critical area except reasonable use variances per SMC 14.255.120(B). The pre- and post-development functional comparison shall be on a per function basis unless otherwise authorized by the Critical Areas Code.

D. No development shall occur in critical areas and their buffers which results in an unreasonable hazard to the public health and safety.

E. These substantive requirements shall be met via one (1) or more of the following methods, listed in preferential sequence (commonly known as “sequencing”). The methods used shall be those which are highest on the list yet consistent with the objectives of the proposed development:

1. Avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action;

2. Minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation, by using appropriate technology, or by taking affirmative steps, such as project redesign, relocation, or timing, to avoid or reduce impacts;

3. Rectifying the impact to wetlands, critical aquifer recharge areas, frequently flooded areas, and habitat conservation areas by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment to the historical conditions or the conditions existing at the time of the initiation of the project;

4. Minimizing or eliminating the hazard by restoring or stabilizing the hazard area through engineered or other methods;

5. Reducing or eliminating the impact or hazard over time by preservation and maintenance operations during the life of the action;

6. Compensating for the impact to wetlands, critical aquifer recharge areas, frequently flooded areas, and habitat conservation areas by replacing, enhancing, or providing substitute resources or environments; and

7. Monitoring the hazard or other required mitigation and taking remedial action when necessary.

Mitigation for individual actions may include a combination of the above measures.

F. As a condition of any permit approval, the City may require that:

1. The outer edge of the critical area or buffer be marked, signed, or fenced to protect the resource. Such protection may be temporary, during construction, or permanent such as to protect the resource from livestock or people. The Planning Director shall specify the design and sign message, if applicable, of such markers, signs, and fencing.

2. The applicant record a notice with the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office stating the presence of the critical area or buffer and the application of this Critical Areas Code to the property, in order to inform subsequent purchasers of the property.

3. The critical area and/or buffer are placed in a critical area tract or conservation easement, the purpose of which is to set aside and protect the critical area. The critical area tract or conservation easement shall be:

a. Held by the City, a homeowners’ association, a land trust or similar conservation organization, or by each lot owner within the development in an undivided interest;

b. Recorded on all documents of title of record for the affected parcels;

c. Noted on the face of any plat or recorded drawing; and

d. Delineated on the ground with permanent markers and/or signs in accordance with local survey standards.

G. The City may allow reduction of buffer widths if steps are implemented to offset the negative impact of the reduction such as enhancement plantings, a proactive weeding program, placement of the buffer into a conservation easement or protected tract and if a qualified professional confirms in writing that functions and values of the critical area and buffer are not adversely affected.

H. Critical areas and buffers shall not be allowed within any lot of a subdivision and/or short plat unless the plat was vested prior to the effective date and implementation of the ordinance codified in this chapter. Subdivisions and/or short plats shall show, on their face, any applicable critical area limitations.

I. When any existing regulation, easement, covenant, or deed restriction conflicts with this Critical Areas Code, the one which provides more protection to the critical areas shall apply.

J. When critical areas of two (2) or more types coincide, the more restrictive buffer and requirements shall apply.

K. Subject to approval through the planned residential development process, or approval by the Planning Director, depending on who the applicable decision-maker is, in calculating allowable residential units per acre, up to one hundred (100) percent of the acreage of critical areas and buffers may be counted and this density transferred to buildable portions of the site provided the overall density cap is not exceeded.

L. The substantive requirements unique to the type of critical area shall also be complied with, as set forth in the applicable chapter of the Critical Areas Code. (Ord. 2315, 2016; Ord. 2368, 2019. Formerly 14.255.120)