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2005 Growth Management Act Update
"2005 GMA Update"

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September 25th, 2008

The below listed documents comprise Skagit County’s proposed legislative response to the Final Decision and Order issued by the WWGMHB in Case No. 07-2-0025c, Friends of Skagit County, June Kite and Evergreen Islands v. Skagit County. Written comments on the proposal will be accepted at the Planning & Development Services Department through close of business on Friday, October 10, 2008. Comments may also be submitted at the public hearing before the Skagit County Planning Commission commencing at 6 pm on Tuesday, Oc

tober 14, 2008. See the below Notice of Availability and Public Hearing for more information.

October 16th, 2007
The updated Comprehensive Plan, development regulations, land use/zoning map, and countywide planning policies became effective as of October 10th, 2007. Please refer to the left side of this web page for links to the Comprehensive Plan, Skagit County Code (including Title 14, Unified Development Code), and other useful information and services. Other information relating to the Growth Management Act Update, including useful links to archived documents, can be found below.

September 10th, 2007


SKAGIT COUNTY – The Board of Skagit County Commissioners signed an ordinance today adopting the Growth Management Update. The ordinance officially adopts the County’s update of its comprehensive plan, development regulations, land use/zoning map, and countywide planning policies which has been underway for several years. The ordinance will go into effect 30 days from signing on October 10, 2007

The ordinance adopted approximately 135 changes to Skagit County Code, 30 changes to the comprehensive land use/zoning map, and a new more streamlined comprehensive plan.

Every seven years, the Washington State Growth Management Act requires Skagit County to update its comprehensive plan and development regulations to ensure compliance with the Act. Skagit County first adopted its comprehensive plan, under the Growth Management Act, in 1997. This update was initially scheduled to be completed by December 1, 2005, but due in part to a large amount of public comment, including more than 1,800 pages of written comments submitted by the public and 107 requests to change the comprehensive plan land use/zoning map, the process took longer than expected, according to Director of Planning and Development Services Gary Christensen.

Christensen acknowledged several groups for their hard work during the process including the 15-member Skagit County GMA Update Steering Committee, the 9-member Skagit County Planning Commission, the Skagit County Agricultural Advisory Board and the Skagit County Forest Advisory Board. He also thanked several staff people from his department, as well as other Skagit County departments involved in the process, including Health, Public Works, Assessor, Parks and Recreation, Administration and Finance, Mapping Services, and the Prosecuting Attorney’s office.

Skagit County Commissioner Chair Sharon Dillon thanked Christensen and his staff. “You really reached out to the people and made sure everyone was heard,” said Dillon.

By 2025, Skagit County is expected to be home to nearly 50,000 additional people, a 45 percent increase in population. “This growth should bring economic opportunities and more diversity to our communities, while also conserving our natural land resource base and protecting our rural lifestyles,” said Christensen. “In order for the quality of life in Skagit County to remain high and its resources to be sustained, we need to work together in the coming years to ensure that the Comprehensive Plan remains a strong blueprint to guide growth.”

For further information, contact: Kirk Johnson, AICP
Senior Planner/Team Supervisor

Related documents:

Planning Commission Recommended 7-year GMA Update:

Archived GMA documents are available here.

For additional information about the 2005 GMA Update schedule, please contact Guy McNally (ext. 5818), Carly Ruacho (ext. 5582), or Kirk Johnson (5916), Planning and Development Services, 1800 Continental Place, Mount Vernon, WA, (360) 416-1320, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Summary of the GMA Update Proposal

1. Amendments to the Countywide Planning Policies (CPPs) that: a) modify the urban commercial and industrial acreage allocations under CPP 1.1 for certain municipal Urban Growth Areas to account for projected employment growth to 2025; and b) move provisions regarding rural commercial and industrial development from CPP 1.1 to CPP 2.

2. Amendments to the Skagit County Comprehensive Plan to reflect changes in local needs and circumstances, new data, and changes in state law since the last adoption of Comprehensive Plan amendments.  The Proposal would reorganize the Comprehensive Plan by consolidating 16 chapters (elements) into 12, and modifying the format and streamlining policies to improve readability and user friendliness.  A report and other supporting documents, below, addresses the proposed changes in greater detail.

3. Amendments to Skagit County Code, Title 14, Unified Development Code, to ensure consistency within the code and with the Comprehensive Plan policies; to clarify certain processes and requirements; and to address typographical errors and inadvertent additions or omissions.  Minor changes will also be made to Title 15, Buildings and Construction, to correct outdated references to the Planning and Development Services Department; and to delete a chapter, 15.20, that is now addressed in Title 14 (14.34, Flood Damage Prevention).  

4. Amendments to the Skagit County Comprehensive Plan/Zoning Map, that are necessary to comply with the Growth Management Act, to reflect local needs and circumstances, and to advance comprehensive planning goals.  Skagit County received more than 100 Map amendment requests from property owners, members of the public, municipalities, and others.  The Planning and Development Services Department and several County advisory bodies have also recommended changes to the map.  All of these map proposals are shown on a map titled Comprehensive Plan Map Amendment Requests, 2005 GMA Update.  The Proposal consists of a Preferred Alternative map that includes only those amendment proposals determined by the Department to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan land use designation criteria and the Growth Management Act, and timely to be considered as part of this update process. See below for links to maps.

Certain additional Comprehensive Plan policies were released for public comment, but are not considered a part of the formal Proposal under consideration for adoption through the 2005 Update.  These policies are referred to as Group B policies.  These policies are being released with the Proposal to gather public comment on whether and how to further develop these policies for consideration in a future Comprehensive Plan Amendment cycle.

Partial List of Skagit County Zoning Districts*



Zoning District
(click on the zoning district name below to view the applicable regulations) (Pdf)

Minimum lot size for new land divisions
(Existing lots smaller than the minimum lot size may exist in any zone)


Rural Village Residential

1acre w/public water
2.5 acres w/private water


Rural Intermediate

2.5 acres


Rural Reserve

10 acres


Agricultural – NRL

40 acres


Rural Resource – NRL

40 acres


Secondary Forest – NRL

20 acres


Industrial Forest – NRL

80 acres

*The major differences from one zone to the next are the allowed uses and building setback requirements.

About the 2005 GMA Update
Every seven years, the Growth Management Act (36.70A RCW) requires Skagit County to update its Comprehensive Plan and development regulations to ensure compliance with the Act. Skagit County adopted its Comprehensive Plan, under the Growth Management Act, in 1997. The County must complete its first seven-year update of the Plan by December 1, 2005. This update process is referred to as the "2005 GMA Update."
By 2025, Skagit County is expected to be home to nearly 50,000 more people. That's a 45% increase. This growth should bring more economic opportunities and more diversity to our communities. In order for the quality of life in Skagit County to remain high and its resources to be sustained, we need to work together this coming year to ensure that the Comprehensive Plan remains a strong blueprint to guide the growth.
Most of the new residential, commercial, and industrial development will likely occur in the urban areas - the cities and the immediate areas surrounding them as well as on Bayview Ridge near the airport. While accommodating this growth Skagit County must also ensure that the farms, forests, and other rural areas are protected to produce the natural resources that our economy depends on. But there are, and will have to be, many compromises to balance growth with life-!--style choices, government services, roads, schools, rural economic development, and all the other things we want and need in Skagit County.
The Comprehensive Plan is where it all comes together. The 2005 GMA Update involves reviewing and renewing the goals and policies that we use to regulate development and plan for new facilities and services. The State Growth Management Act (GMA) and other legislation has changed, and our plans must be consistent with those changes. In addition, we want to make sure that the Plan truly reflects the vision of our citizens - many of whom bring new perspectives.
Skagit County Population and Employment Forecasts and Allocations through 2025
This report analyzes population and employment forecasts for Skagit County through the year 2025, and provides recommendations for allocating those population and employment numbers to the county and the municipalities in Skagit County for purposes of the 2005 GMA Update. Download the report here.(Pdf)
GMA Update & Public Outreach Steering Committee:
Note: The committee members below met once or twice monthly, for over a year, to advise Skagit County on Comprehensive Plan policy, and to bring the many perspectives of the community to the table.  These volunteer citizens worked outside the committee meetings to engage citizens in dialogue about how best to plan for the future.  They are all to be commended for their efforts.
Agriculture / Curtis Johnson
Forestry / Paul Kriegel
Minerals / Mike Crawford
Economic Development / Don Wick
Real Estate & Construction / Wayne Crider
Environmental Conservation / Ellen Gray
Rural Issues / Gary Jones
Growth Management Advocacy / Carrie Youngquist
Property Rights / Paul Taylor
Housing / Pedro Perez
Urban & City / Eric Stendal
Tribal / Doreen Maloney
Commissioner District 1 At Large / Michael Fohn
Commissioner District 2 At Large / Sandy Dixon
Commissioner District 3 At Large / Sharon Stewart
More Information and Links
Contact Information
2005 GMA Update
Skagit County Planning & Development Services
1800 Continental Place
Mount Vernon WA 98273
Guy McNally, AICP
Associate Planner
360-416-1320, ext. 5818
Internet Links:
Links to Currently Adopted Policies, Regulations and Other Online Documents