SKWC White Papers

Snohomish County codes have many loopholes that allow developers and the Planning Department to clear areas/develop land without navigating proper channels. The White Papers are short documents, each describing an aspect of Snohomish County’s land use/stormwater regulations or permit processing that we feel should be improved. Each page is a suggestion on how to better execute/amend certain codes to eliminate loopholes and keep events like Frognal from happening again. The purpose is to protect the environment and public safety/infrastructure from half-formed plans and wait for all testing to be completed.

Below is a short summary of each proposal. To read the full description, see pdf embedded at the bottom of the page.

Sno-King Watershed Council White Paper No. 1:

Bring Snohomish County Code into compliance with its Municipal NPDES Permit and best management practices. The the most current version of the Drainage Manual shall be used as an applicant’s sole documentation to meet the code requirements of this section for all projects, including projects vested under older stormwater manuals that have not started construction by June 30, 2020. Effective July 1, 2020.

Sno-King Watershed Council White Paper No. 2

To prevent vested projects from selecting newer codes that are to its financial benefit without implementing newer environmental codes. If an applicant wishes to take advantage of a change in Snohomish County Code allowing a previously prohibited use or practice, it may do so by withdrawing its original application and submitting another new application, vesting under all current codes in effect at the time of the new application. An applicant may not cherry pick which codes will govern after its application is deemed complete.

Sno-King Watershed Council White Paper No. 3

To prevent early clearing forested areas within the Urban Growth Area (UGA) with significant trees, prior to the issuance of all permits necessary to commence construction. When an applicant commences removal of more than 5,000 board feet of significant trees under an approved Class IV Forest Practices permit, the site must be promptly graded to finish grade and utility installation commenced under an approved Land Disturbing Activity permit within 6-months of tree removal. Failure to meet this requirement will result in a 6-year moratorium as described under SCC 30.43F.220, resulting in the Class IV permit being converted to a Class I, II, or III permit as appropriate and the site must be promptly reforested.

Sno-King Watershed Council White Paper No. 4

To require large lot redevelopment projects to comply with the requirements of the Drainage Manual. For commercial or industrial projects: the valuation of the proposed improvements, including interior improvements, exceeds 50% of the assessed value of the existing Project Site improvements.

Sno-King Watershed Council White Paper No. 5

To require existing flow control and water quality structures to be upgraded to current code requirements, when significant (>50%) redevelopment or retrofitting is proposed. It is critical to restoring streams that have been degraded by past development using outdated flow control methods, to require retrofitted flow control (detention) facilities to be upgraded to current code requirements, when redevelopment occurs. If an applicant proposes to retrofit or redevelop more than 50% of an existing flow control or water quality treatment structure, then the entire flow control/water quality structure must be redeveloped to meet the requirements of the current Drainage Manual, regardless of the amount of disturbed project area.

Sno-King Watershed Council White Paper No. 6

Bring Snohomish County permit application procedures that require an engineer’s seal into compliance with State law, WAC 196-23-020. The following land disturbing activities require the submittal of all permit application construction plans, reports, and other documents requiring engineering expertise shall be a prepared by, signed, and stamped by an engineer licensed in the State of Washington