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WAC 458-30-230

Application for open space classification.

(1) Introduction. This section explains the application process for an applicant who seeks to have land classified or reclassified as open space land under RCW 84.34.020(1).
(2) Where to submit. An application for classification or reclassification of land as open space shall be made to the county legislative authority of the county in which the land is located.
(3) Granting authority. The identity of the entity that will act as the granting authority shall be determined by the location of the land the applicant seeks to classify or reclassify as open space land. The granting authority shall be determined as follows:
(a) If the parcel(s) of land is located in an unincorporated area of the county, the county legislative authority shall be the granting authority.
(b) If the parcel(s) of land is located in an incorporated area of the county, a copy of the application for classification or reclassification shall be forwarded to the city legislative authority in which the land is located. Applications must be acted upon by:
(i) A granting authority composed of three members of the county legislative authority and three members of the city legislative authority in a meeting where members may be physically absent but participating through a telephonic connection; or
(ii) Separate affirmative acts by both the county and city legislative authorities whereby each authority affirms the entirety of the application without modification or each authority affirms the application with identical modifications.
(4) Application process. An application for classification or reclassification of a parcel(s) of land as open space land shall be processed as follows:
(a) Comprehensive land use plan. The granting authority shall determine whether or not the land is located in an area designated as "open space" by an official comprehensive land use plan adopted by a city or county and zoned accordingly.
(i) If the land is in an area subject to a comprehensive plan, the application for classification or reclassification shall be treated in the same manner as a proposed amendment to that plan.
(ii) If the land is in an area not subject to a comprehensive plan, a public hearing on the application shall be conducted. A notice of this hearing shall be announced once by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the region, city, or county at least ten days before the hearing. The owner who submitted the application for classification or reclassification that is the subject of the public hearing shall be notified in writing of the date, time, and location of this hearing.
(b) Factors to consider. In determining whether an application for classification or reclassification as open space land should be approved, the granting authority:
(i) May take particular notice of the benefits to the general welfare of preserving the current use of the parcel(s) of land described in the application; and
(ii) Shall consider the following:
(A) The revenue loss or tax shift that will result from granting the application;
(B) Whether granting the application for classification or reclassification of land under RCW 84.34.020 (1)(b) will:
(I) Conserve or enhance natural, cultural, or scenic resources;
(II) Protect streams, stream corridors, wetlands, natural shorelines, and aquifers;
(III) Protect soil resources, unique or critical wildlife, and native plant habitat;
(IV) Promote conservation principles by example or by offering educational opportunities;
(V) Enhance the value to the public of abutting or neighboring parks, forests, wildlife preserves, nature reservations or sanctuaries, or other open spaces;
(VI) Enhance recreation opportunities;
(VII) Preserve historic and archaeological sites;
(VIII) Preserve visual quality along highway, road, and street corridors or scenic vistas; or
(IX) Affect any other factors relevant in weighing benefits to the general welfare of preserving the current use of the land; and
(C) Whether granting the application for classification or reclassification of land as farm and agricultural conservation land (RCW 84.34.020 (1)(c)) will:
(I) Either preserve land previously classified as farm and agricultural land under RCW 84.34.020(2) or preserve traditional farmland not classified under chapter 84.33 or 84.34 RCW;
(II) Preserve land with a potential for returning to commercial agriculture; and
(III) Affect any other factors relevant in weighing general benefits of preserving the current use of the property.
(iii) In addition to the foregoing concerns, the granting authority shall consider:
(A) The existence of any mining claim or mining lease on the land, and if such a claim or lease will seriously interfere with the considerations stated in (b)(i) and (ii) of this subsection. If the granting authority determines serious interference will occur, it may deny the application in whole or in part. If a mining claim or mining lease is obtained after the land is classified or reclassified, the same determination must be made in deciding whether serious interference will occur; and
(B) The zoning of the parcel(s) of land at the time the application for classification or reclassification is filed.
(5) Approval or denial of application. The granting authority shall either approve or disapprove the application within six months of the date the completed application was received by the county legislative authority.
(a) The granting authority may approve the application for classification or reclassification in whole or in part. If any part of the application is denied, the applicant may withdraw the entire application.
(b) In approving the application in whole or in part, the granting authority may also require that certain conditions be met including, but not limited to, the granting of easements. As a condition of granting an application for open space classification, the granting authority may not require public access on land classified under RCW 84.34.020 (1)(b)(iii) to promote the conservation of wetlands.
(c) If approved, valuation of the land at its current use value shall begin on January 1 of the year following the year the application was filed. However, any application approved on or after July 1 of any year shall cause the land to be listed on the assessment roll at its current use value on January 1 of the following assessment year.
(d) When the application for classification or reclassification as open space has been approved, the granting authority shall prepare an agreement. See WAC 458-30-240 for a detailed description of this agreement.
(e) The granting or denial of an application for classification or reclassification as open space land is a legislative determination and shall be reviewable only for arbitrary and capricious actions.
(6) Public benefit rating system. When an application for classification or reclassification under RCW 84.34.020 (1)(b) and (c) is submitted regarding land that is subject to a public benefit rating system adopted under RCW 84.34.055, the county legislative authority shall rate the parcel(s) of land in accordance with the public benefit rating system to determine whether the application should be approved or denied.
Land that was classified under RCW 84.34.020 (1)(b) or (c) prior to the adoption of a public benefit rating system does not have to requalify for classification under the criteria of the public benefit rating system. The land shall not be removed from classification by an assessor. This land may be rated according to the public benefit rating system as appropriate. (See WAC 458-30-330 for more information about the public benefit rating system.)
(7) Record retention. The granting authority shall keep a record of each application, agreement, and records relating to each agreement.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 84.08.070, 84.34.141, 84.36.865, 84.52.0502. WSR 09-19-010, § 458-30-230, filed 9/3/09, effective 10/4/09. Statutory Authority: RCW 84.08.110, 84.08.070, 84.34.141 and 84.34.360. WSR 95-21-002, § 458-30-230, filed 10/4/95, effective 11/4/95. Statutory Authority: RCW 84.08.010(2), 84.34.141 and chapter 84.34 RCW. WSR 88-23-062 (Order PT 88-12), § 458-30-230, filed 11/15/88.]
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