What are Countywide Planning Policies?
Countywide Planning Policies are a requirement for all counties planning under the state Growth Management Act (GMA). Under GMA, Countywide Planning Policies establish a framework for developing and adopting county and city comprehensive plans.The role of the policies is to coordinate the comprehensive plans of jurisdictions in the same county for regional issues or issues affecting common borders. The Countywide Planning Policies are those things held in common across all jurisdictions' comprehensive plans and which form the foundation of those plans.
Amending the Countywide Planning Policies
Thurston County's Countywide Planning Policies were originally adopted in the early 1990s. They were developed by the TRPC's Urban Growth Management (UGM) Subcommittee. Under GMA, the authority for making changes to the Countywide Planning Policies lies with the County. However, the County is required to consult with the cities and towns within the County, regarding changes. The UGM Subcommittee is the vehicle for this consultation process. The subcommittee is comprised of policymakers from all the jurisdictions in Thurston County that plan under GMA (i.e. the county, cities, and towns).
In December 2013, TRPC adopted Creating Places-Preserving Spaces: A Sustainable Development Plan for the Thurston Region (
Sustainable Thurston). The adoption resolution pledged to integrate sustainability into decisionmaking processes — including the Countywide Planning Policies — to enhance quality of life, foster economic vitality, and protect the environment.
The UGM Subcommittee met in 2014 and 2015 to draft recommended amendments to the Countywide Planning Policies. The subcommittee's recommendation incorporated Sustainable Thurston's foundational principles and policies into the Countywide Planning Policies and also proposed amendments to strengthen language limiting suburban development in rural lands, enforce development standard agreements among jurisdictions, develop a streamlined process for annexations, eliminate out-of-date references, clarify language, and improve formatting. The subcommittee's recommendation was forwarded to the Board of County Commissioners in March 2015.
The Board of County Commissioners held a public hearing on the proposed amendments in October, 2015. In November, 2015 the Board of County Commissioners adopted the amendments to the Thurston Countywide Planning Policies which had been recommended by the UGM Subcommittee.
Adopted amendments to the Countywide Planning Policies and the adopting resolution: