Critical Area Restoration
A New Approach
In 2007, when the new critical areas ordinance was approved, a new, innovative approach to critical area buffers was adopted. This new method allows a property owner to choose between two different approaches in complying with the critical areas ordinance. The first approach is what staff will call the 'big buffer' approach. With this approach a large buffer is placed around a critical area on a site and the owner doesn't need to do anything else but make sure that the buffer is left alone.
The second approach is what is called the 'ecosystem alternative'. With the ecosystem alternative a property owner is able to buy down the big buffer, in exchange for enhancing the buffer that remains, and making sure that water quality facilities are installed on the site. The city then takes the money that the property owner pays to buy down their buffer and enhances a city restoration site within the same basin that the project site is located within.
To read more about the restoration sites that the City has, and is in the process of, restoring please see the links below:
The ecosystem alternative approach is based on detailed review of the basins and critical area habitat and wetland recommendations appropriate to the functions and values provided to the Mount Vernon geographic setting and the competing needs of assuring long-term protection and maintenance of functions and values with an objective of creating long-term gain within the community, and the need to accommodate compact urban growth to achieve the residential, commercial, and industrial needs of the community. The system is also designed to provide special attention to the needs of anadromous fish.
Since the adoption of this new ordinance seven developments have chosen to use the ecosystem alternative approach. With these developments the city has/or will be collecting $153,860.00 that has/or will be used to enhance the city's restoration sites.