What is the Comprehensive Plan?
The Growth Management Act (GMA) is a series of statutes enacted in 1990 to help the quickly growing state manage its population and resources. One element of the GMA requires individual counties to develop and adopt a comprehensive plan. These comprehensive plans serve as a guiding document for local elected officials by outlining the goals, visions, and priorities of their county. The Comprehensive Plan does not establish specific rules and regulations. Rather, it sets broad goals and policies that the county implements through its codes and ordinances.
Under the GMA, not all counties are required to develop a full comprehensive plan that touch on the 13 elements required by state law. Whitman County, because of its population size and rural nature, is not a fully planning county. Regardless of planning status, all counties in Washington state are required to designate natural resource lands (those lands related to forestry, agriculture, fisheries, and mining), along with critical resources (wetlands, aquifer recharge areas, fish and wildlife conservation areas, etc.).
What does Whitman County’s current Comprehensive Plan cover?
Whitman County is not fully planning, but the 1978 plan, by choice, incorporates more elements than only natural resource and critical area designation. Additional elements in the Whitman County plan are land use (designating agricultural, rural residential, industrial, commercial lands), transportation, economic development, environmental quality and natural conservation, parks and recreation, and renewable energy.
The 1978 plan has not received a full update since enactment. This project gives Whitman County the opportunity to adjust the plan based on changes seen since 1978, and on input from the community regarding how they envision the future of the county.