The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
the Times 

Area comp. plan updates are finalized

Final public hearings to be held in Sept. and Oct.


September 5, 2019

COLUMBIA COUNTY—Comprehensive plan updates for Columbia County, the City of Dayton, and the Town of Starbuck are wrapping up with final public hearings planned for September and October, according to Columbia County Planning Director Meagan Bailey.

“All three plans were submitted for 60-day review at the end of May and that review period closed the end of July. All three plans received, essentially, accolades from the state with no required updates, indicating that all Growth Management Act requirements were met on first draft, as submitted,” Bailey said.

Bailey said there have been minor language revisions since May, but no major changes. All three plans share updated County-wide Planning Policies, Comprehensive Plan Docketing Procedures, the Cooperative Parks Master Plan and the Blue Mountain Region Trails Plan which will aid the jurisdictions in working together to meet joint goals.

Columbia County

A public hearing for the Columbia County Comprehensive Plan Update, Critical Areas Ordinance and associated development regulations will be held by the County Planning Commission on Sept. 9 at 5:35 p.m. at the Board of County Commissioner’s Office at 311 East Main Street in Dayton. The hearing is an opportunity to take final public testimony for or against the proposed amended plans and regulations.

Bailey said the County plan saw same minor zoning changes. While no lands were removed from agricultural resource land classifications, some small areas were rezoned from A-1 to A-2 or A-3 to allow for increased density in more urbanized areas. Bailey cited an area just south of Starbuck as an example.

Language was added regarding new regulations by the State requesting cooperative efforts with the military. The language addresses activities such as the low-level training flight paths on the north end of the County.

“We’ve received comment from the Department of Commerce suggesting that our ordinance and language may be used as guidance documents in Department of Commerce materials,” Bailey said. Additionally, a letter of support was received from the Department of the Navy supporting the documents.

Bailey said three new chapters have been added to the zoning ordinances and one chapter each has been amended in the zoning code, critical areas ordinance and building and construction ordinance.

The City of Dayton

The City of Dayton Planning Commission will review the final draft edits at the regular September meeting, with a public hearing anticipated in October. Pending planning commission recommendation and City Council final action, the plan is scheduled to be adopted by November.

Bailey said the Dayton plan updated involved an overall general review and update with new language regarding retail development in the downtown corridor.

Cottage development regulations have been added to the code to allow for easier infill, with smaller lot area minimums and decreased setback requirements.

“It’s a user-friendly option to allow cottages that could be used by a private individual, such as a self-sustaining senior who wants a small place that is easy to care for,” Bailey said.

Town of Starbuck

The Town of Starbuck is expected to schedule a public hearing for some time in October at its September council meeting.

Starbuck’s update involved and overall review and information updates, but no changes to development regulations.

“I have heard a handful of times from the State that this cooperative effort would be very competitive in a Washington State Governor’s Award for the 2020 applications and is something I plan to apply for with this project,” Bailey said.

Staff reports and full Comprehensive Plan Updates for all three jurisdictions can be found online at under the Planning and Building Department, then 2020 Comprehensive Plan.


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