Critical Areas Ordinance

The draft Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) is now available for public review and comment. It is viewable and able to be downloaded by clicking HERE. 

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to accept written and verbal comments on the CAO on January 22, 2020, at the Tri Area Community Center beginning at 5:30 pm. Written comments can be submitted anytime to either the Planning Commission or to DCD beginning January 8, 2020 until 4:30pm Friday, January 24, 2020. Written comments on the proposals may be submitted to “Department of Community Development - CAO Comments” at 621 Sheridan Street, Port Townsend WA 98368 or via email to:

Jefferson County is in the process of completing its updates to the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) as part of its state-mandated periodic review of the Comprehensive Plan and implementing regulations under the state Growth Management Act. Best available science documents, meeting agendas and other background material is available by visiting our CAO background information files.

Jefferson County has been in the process of updating its CAO, which is located in Chapter 18.22 of the Unified Development Code, since 2014 and draft revisions began in 2016. With the passage of Resolution 17-19, the CAO updates were completed with the help of a regulatory reform task force. See below for information on that task force.

Visit this page often to keep track of briefings and public hearings at the Planning Commission and by the Board of County Commissioners. The updated CAO final adoption is scheduled to occur at the end of February 2020.

To access the Planning Commission or Board of County Commissions supporting documents on this project, visit the links below:

Regulatory Reform Task Force

On March 25, 2019, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners and the Jefferson County Board of Health adopted a resolution 17-19, a Joint Resolution establishing a Regulatory Reform Program for the County, including directing the Department of Community Development to use the updates to the critical areas ordinance (CAO) as an opportunity to holistically analyze and reform regulations, protect the environment, and create efficient development practices and permitting paths. On July 8, 2019, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution, 35-19, establishing and appointing members to a Jefferson County Critical Areas Regulatory Reform Task Force to advise the County with recommendations as the County finalizes drafting updates to the CAO. The Task Force is authorized to discuss and collectively recommend refinements to the policy, regulations, and environmental standards in the existing draft of the CAO update, for potential inclusion in a revised draft CAO update.

The Critical Areas Regulatory Reform Task Force has completed its review with most of their efforts concentrated on agricultural activities and protection of critical areas. The Task Force was unable to review and make recommendations on all critical area types. It will deliver its recommendations to the Department of Community Development, with copies to the Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners, on or about December 18, 2019. The Task Force has dissolved and will no longer be meeting.

Supporting Links

Supporting Task Force Documents

All documents related to the CAO RR Task Force can be found on LaserFiche, the County’s document archive, HERE