Jeffco commissioners approve new building lot regulations

Change could lead to more development in substandard lots

PORT TOWNSEND — A new process to determine whether lots in Jefferson County were created legally — particularly those smaller than current zoning allows — was approved Monday by the Board of County Commissioners.

Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean wrote in an email that no public comment was received during Monday’s continued public hearing and the hearing was closed.

Based upon recommendations from both the Community Development Department and Jefferson County Planning Commission, the new “legal lot of record” legislation would protect landowners by clarifying procedures that determine whether a lot can accommodate a single-family residence, according to a news release from the commissioners last week.

A staff memo to the commissioners for this week’s continued hearing stated that providing a countywide process for determining legal lot of record status should increase the possibility for development on substandard lots because the revised draft ordinance defines legal lot of record, and provides additional flexibility for permitting and installing an onsite septic system.

The Community Development Department, Environmental Public Health Department and county prosecutor held several meetings after the Sept. 26 public hearing to develop the revised draft ordinance.

It responds to the commissioners’ directions by removing a separate legal lot of record determination.

It also removes a separate legal lot of record determination and makes it part of the site development review process. As a result, no separate fee will be charged for the legal lot of record determination.

It also maintains the presumption that lots comply with current zoning and subdivision laws and are legal lots of record.

It presumes lots platted and approved by the county on or after Aug. 11, 1969, are legal lots of record. It also presumes that substandard lots are legal lots of record and eligible for a development permit if the lot was properly platted and approved on or after Aug. 11, 1969.

The revised draft ordinance continues to provide a unified county process for determining when lots that do not meet the requirements of current zoning substandard lots can be determined to be legal lots of record, consistent with the Growth Management Act, the State Subdivision Law, State law on on-site sewage.

At the Sept. 26 public hearing, Liz Coker from the Jefferson County Home Builders Association said she was concerned that the current solution to the legal lot of record issue is that it is so broad it encompasses 1,900 private households in the county, or nearly 3,000 people.


Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at

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