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A. The purpose of this chapter is to designate and classify environmentally sensitive and hazardous areas as critical areas and to protect, maintain and restore these areas and their functions and values, while also allowing for reasonable use of public and private property.

B. This chapter is to implement the goals, policies, guidelines, and requirements of the city comprehensive plan and the Growth Management Act (Chapter 36.70A RCW).

C. Critical areas provide a variety of valuable and beneficial biological and physical functions that benefit the city and its residents, and/or may pose a threat to human safety or to public and private property. The beneficial functions and values provided by critical areas include, but are not limited to, water quality protection and enhancement, fish and wildlife habitat, food chain support, flood storage, conveyance and attenuation of flood waters, ground water recharge and discharge, erosion control, wave attenuation, protection from hazards, historical, archaeological, and aesthetic value protection, and recreation.

D. By limiting adverse impacts and alteration of critical areas, this chapter seeks to accomplish the following goals:

1. Protect members of the public and public resources and facilities from injury, loss of life, or property damage due to landslides and steep slope failures, erosion, seismic events, or flooding;

2. Protect, maintain and restore healthy, functioning ecosystems through the protection of unique, fragile, and valuable elements of the environment, including, but not limited to, ground and surface waters, wetlands, fish and wildlife and their habitats; and to conserve the biodiversity of plant and animal species;

3. Direct activities not dependent on critical area resources to less environmentally sensitive sites and mitigate unavoidable impacts to critical areas by regulating alterations in and adjacent to critical areas;

4. Prevent cumulative adverse environmental impacts to water quality, wetlands, and fish and wildlife habitat, and the overall net loss of wetlands, frequently flooded areas, and habitat conservation areas; and

5. Alert owners, potential purchasers, real estate agents, appraisers, lenders, builders, developers and other members of the public to natural conditions that pose a hazard or otherwise limit development.

E. The regulations of this chapter are intended to protect critical areas in accordance with the Growth Management Act and through the application of the best available science, as determined according to WAC 365-195-900 through 365-195-925, and in consultation with state and federal agencies and other qualified professionals.

F. This chapter is to be administered with flexibility and attention to site-specific characteristics in the context of the watershed or other relevant ecosystem unit. It is not the intent of this chapter to make a parcel of property unusable by denying its owner all reasonable economic use of the property. It is not intended to prevent the provision of public facilities and services necessary to support existing and planned development for/by the community. [Ord. 2005-11-092].