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Community Development & Planning Department

Long-Range Planning Department

Long-Range Planning

Long-Range Planning approaches land-use planning by studying environmental conditions and the cultural landscape, and then creating or changing County policy statements and the development regulations that carry those policies out. Long range planning staff act as facilitators for public involvement in plan making and coordinate development with natural and built carrying capacity to ensure that new land use will be matched and located with necessary infrastructure and facilities. Staff also provides resources for other county departments, state agencies and the San Juan County Council (SJCC).

Long-Range Planning work in San Juan County includes

  • The Comprehensive Plan. This is the baseline data on county population, resources services and facilities. The Plan uses the baseline data to formulate goals and policies for land use, transportation, housing, capital facilities, shoreline protection and maintenance of rural character.
  • The Official Maps. The maps, available in .pdf format, show legal land use designations and maximum residential density.
  • The Unified Development Code (UDC). The Land Use Code, often referred to as zoning, implements the policies developed in the Plan by making them part of the County laws regulating current and proposed land use, infrastructure and facilities.

Public Processes

The Comprehensive Plan, Maps and Code are eligible for modification once a year. Changes can be proposed by anyone, and applications are gathered during the Spring and analyzed for action by the Council at the end of each year. State laws require counties to update their comprehensive plans and development codes to maintain continuity with revisions to state laws and policies at least once every seven years. The scheduled required update for San Juan County falls in 2005, followed by 2012, and so on. All proposed changes to the plan, code or maps must be delivered to the State Department of Ecology for review of potential environmental effects, and to other State agencies. All proposed changes must also be advertised for public comment and be the subject of public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Council.

Planning Commission

The Planning Commission is an essential part of the public process and community planning. State laws require each county to have a group of citizen advisors to address land use matters. The planning commission is a group of citizen volunteers appointed by the County Council who make recommendations to the Council on planning decisions. Workshops and public hearings of the Planning Commission are an important public forum where public opinion and advice becomes part of the County’s records and decision making process.

Meetings and topics are listed in the newspaper and on the County website and usually posted in the affected communities at least several days before the meeting is held. Study documents and proposed actions are available at Community Development and Planning Department office at 135 Rhone Street, PO Box 947, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, Phone 360-378-2354, and may be found on this web site under Current Projects, or Planning Commission.

Long range staff provides support for the Planning Commission meetings by drafting and posting agendas, writing staff reports that review changes to plans and the development code and for taking Planning Commission recommendations to the County Council.

Long Range Planning/Community Development Contacts (Click here)