Community Development

Comprehensive Plan & UDC    Amendment Process

Page last updated: 3/28/2013

Note: Since 2006, the deadline for Comprehensive Plan amendment applications is March 1 for each annual cycle.

This page presents general information about the process for amending Jefferson County's Comprehensive Plan and Unified Development Code (UDC), including instructions and application forms for proposing a site-specific amendment to the Comprehensive Plan (e.g., changing the land use district for a particular parcel).

The Comprehensive Plan annual amendment cycle is coordinated by the Department of Community Development (DCD).  Public participation is directed through review by the citizen volunteer Planning Commission and the elected Board of County Commissioners (BoCC). 

The Docket is the set of proposals to be considered.  See the Process section below for information about the review process.  See Documents below for links to press releases, legal notices, memoranda, staff reports, and other documents, when available.

The following links are to application forms required for individuals who desire to apply for site-specific Comprehensive Plan amendments.  The deadline for application each calendar year is March 1 for inclusion in that year's amendment cycle.

For more information, read about annual amendment cycle process below and consult a planner in the Long-Range Planning division of the Department of Community Development.

A pre-application conference is now the required initial step in the procedure for submitting a Comprehensive Plan Amendment application.  During the "pre-app" appointment, applicants and planners meet to review the feasibility of the application before large amounts of time and money have been spent.  To obtain a copy of the "pre-app" form, click here

Application for formal, site-specific Comprehensive Plan / UDC amendment
Application for suggested Comprehensive Plan / UDC amendment
Master Permit Application form
State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) checklist, including SUPPLEMENTAL         SHEET FOR NON-PROJECT ACTIONS (required)






The Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan (Plan) guides how future development will occur in the county.  The Unified Development Code (UDC) identifies the specific regulations and standards that development must follow in order to implement the Plan.  The Comprehensive Plan/UDC Amendment Process allows individuals, groups and County departments to propose changes to the Plan and/or the UDC.  It provides a way to address changing conditions and new considerations in how growth occurs throughout Jefferson County.  This information about the Comprehensive Plan/UDC Amendment process is designed to help you provide all the information necessary to facilitate a timely and well-informed decision on your application.

The Growth Management Act (GMA) allows amendments to comprehensive plans no more often than once per year, except for certain exceptions and in emergency situations.  The specific requirements for Comprehensive Plan and UDC amendments are found in Section 9 of the UDC.  The requirements for Plan amendments include:

  • A process whereby the county will compile and maintain a “preliminary docket” of proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and then select which proposed amendments will be placed on the “final docket” for review, no more often than once annually;
  • Timelines and procedures for placing formal applications for amendments by project proponents or property owners on the final docket for review, no more often than once annually; and
  • Criteria for review of the final docket by the Jefferson County Planning Commission and the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners. 

The text of the UDC may be amended at any time, provided the amendment is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and land use map.  When inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan and land use map, the UDC amendment must be processed concurrent with any necessary Comprehensive Plan amendments using the process and timelines for Plan amendments set forth in Chapter 18.45 of the UDC and summarized here.  


There are two different types of Comprehensive Plan/UDC Amendments:

  1. Formal Site-Specific Comprehensive Plan Amendment.  Proponents of land development projects and/or property owner(s) or their authorized representative(s), may file an application for a proposed amendment to the Comprehensive Plan relating to a site-specific proposal affecting the official map of Comprehensive Plan Land Use Designations.  These proposals are often referred to as "rezones."

  2. Suggested Comprehensive Plan/UDC Amendment.  Proposals that broadly apply to the goals, policies and implementation strategies of the Comprehensive Plan or the standards and requirements of the UDC, rather than amendments designed to address site-specific issues of limited applicability.  These are typically suggestions for changes to Comprehensive Plan/UDC text.

The Master Permit Application form is required for all Comprehensive Plan/UDC Amendment applications.  In addition, the applicant or representative must complete and submit one or both of the supplemental Comprehensive Plan/UDC Amendment applications, depending upon the type of amendment requested (see above).  Applicants for formal site-specific must also submit a completed State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Checklist, including the supplemental sheet for non-project actions (i.e., legislative actions as opposed to building permits, etc.).  Comprehensive Plan/UDC Amendments require final approval via legislative action by the Board of County Commissioners.


All Comprehensive Plan/UDC Amendment applications must be completed and submitted to the Department of Community Development by March 1 of the current calendar year in order to be considered during this year's amendment process.  Completed applications that are received after February 1 will be placed on the docket for the following calendar year.  Applications that are incomplete will be returned to the applicant. 

In the spring of each year, the Administrator of the Department of Community Development (DCD) will compile the list of suggested amendments into a “preliminary docket.”  The Administrator will prepare a report concerning which suggested amendments should be placed on the “final docket” for consideration during the current year annual amendment process based on need as well as DCD staff and budget availability to accommodate the public review process. 

The Planning Commission will then hold a public hearing and identify those suggested amendments that it recommends be placed on the “final docket” for consideration by the Board of County Commissioners during the current year annual amendment process. 

The Board of County Commissioners will meet in late spring to review and consider the Planning Commission's recommendations and shall adopt a “final docket” for the current year plan amendment cycle.  

The “final docket” as adopted by the Board of County Commissioners will then be reviewed by DCD and the staff will prepare a recommendation on each proposed amendment.  The Planning Commission will assess all proposed amendments on the “final docket,” hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners.  The Board will then review and make a final decision on each proposed amendment by mid-December of the current year.  


All Comprehensive Plan/UDC Amendment applications on the “final docket” will be evaluated on the basis of the criteria listed in the relevant section of the Jefferson County Unified Development Code (see UDC Chapter 18.45).  Proposed Plan amendments on the “final docket” may only be approved upon showing that all of the following have been satisfied:

  1. The annual amendment review process included consideration into the following growth management indicators:

a)  Whether growth and development as envisioned in the Comprehensive Plan is occurring faster or slower than anticipated, or is failing to materialize;

b)  Whether the capacity of the county to provide adequate services has diminished or increased;

c)  Whether sufficient urban land is designated and zoned to meet projected demand and need;

d)  Whether any of the assumptions upon which the Plan is based are no longer found to be valid;

e)  Whether changes in county-wide attitudes necessitate amendments to the goals of the Plan and the basic values embodied within the Comprehensive Plan Vision Statement;

f)   Whether changes in circumstances dictate a need for amendments;

g)  Whether inconsistencies exist between the Comprehensive Plan and the GMA or the Comprehensive Plan and the County-wide Planning Policy for Jefferson County.

2.  Whether circumstances related to the proposed amendment and/or the area in which it is located have substantially changed since the adoption of the Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan;

3.  Whether the assumptions upon which the Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan is based are no longer valid, or whether new information is available which was not considered during the adoption process or any annual amendments of the Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan; and

4.  Whether the proposed amendment reflects current widely held values of the residents of Jefferson County.

In addition to the required findings set forth above, in order to recommend approval of a formal site-specific proposal to amend the Comprehensive Plan, the following findings must also be made:

5.  The proposed site-specific amendment meets concurrency requirements for transportation and does not adversely affect adopted level of service standards for other public facilities and services (e.g., sheriff, fire and emergency medical services, parks, fire flow, and general governmental services);

6.  The proposed site-specific amendment is consistent with the goals, policies and implementation strategies of the various elements of the Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan;

7.  The proposed site-specific amendment will not result in probable significant adverse impacts to the county's transportation network, capital facilities, utilities, parks, and environmental features that cannot be mitigated, and will not place uncompensated burdens upon existing or planned service capabilities;

8.  In the case of a site-specific amendment to the land use map, that the subject parcels are physically suitable for the requested land use designation and the anticipated land use development, including but not limited to the following:

i.     Access;

ii.    Provision of utilities; and

iii.   Compatibility with existing and planned surrounding land uses; 

  1. The proposed site-specific amendment will not create a pressure to change the land use designation of other properties, unless the change of land use designation for other properties is in the long-term best interests of the county as a whole;

  2. The proposed site-specific amendment does not materially affect the land use and population growth projections that are the bases of the Comprehensive Plan;

  3. If within an unincorporated urban growth area (UGA), the proposed site-specific amendment does not materially affect the adequacy or availability of urban facilities and services to the immediate area and the overall UGA;

  4. The proposed amendment is consistent with the Growth Management Act (Chapter 36.70A RCW), the County-Wide Planning Policy for Jefferson County, any other applicable inter-jurisdictional policies or agreements, and any other local, state or federal laws.

Copies of the Unified Development Code (UDC) are available for purchase at DCD and also on the DCD website.


2010 - Completed

2009 - Completed with one (1) site-specific amendment adopted.

2008 - Completed four (4) site-specific amendments adopted.

2007 - Completed with six (6) site specific amendments adopted and one (1) suggested amendment carried over to 2008.

2006 - Completed with four (4) site-specific amendments adopted.

2005- Six (6) amendments were adopted on December 12, 2005 among a Docket with nine (9) site-specific amendments and one (1) suggested amendments.

2004 - Amendments were adopted on December 13, 2004 affecting the following:

  • Goals, policies, and development regulations for the Airport Essential Public Facility (AEPF) district and vicinity.

  • Agricultural Lands of Local Importance designation for 220 parcels of real property.

  • Replacement Comprehensive Plan elements related to mandated 2004 update and discretionary Planning Commission periodic assessment.

2003 - Amendments were adopted on December 8, 2003 affecting the land use designation for three parcels, the boundary of a Mineral Resource Land overlay district at the Penny Creek Quarry in Quilcene, designations and policy language for Agricultural Lands, and policy language related to protecting aquifers against seawater intrusion.

2002 - Concluded with adoption of Comprehensive Plan and UDC amendments affecting, among other subjects, the Hadlock/Irondale area, Glen Cove, and Brinnon.  (See topic headings below.)

UDC Amendments - Since adoption December 2000:

  • UDC amendments adopted on December 13, 2002 in conjunction with the 2002 Comprehensive Plan Amendment Cycle affect the following topics: Forest Transition Overlay District (Section 3.6.14), Comprehensive Plan amendment application deadlines (Sections 9.4, 9.5 and 9.6), Glen Cove Light Industrial District (Tables 3-1 and 6-1), stormwater management standards (Section 6.7), and the Brinnon Subarea (Sections 3.6.12, 3.6.14, 3.7, 4.17, 4.20,4.35 and Table 8-1).
  • Adoption on December 13, 2002 (with a technical correction on December 20) of the Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington, issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology in August 2001, as the set of stormwater management standards for all new development and redevelopment in Jefferson County.  The 2001 Manual replaces the previously utilized 1992 Ecology stormwater manual.  Visit the Stormwater Management page for links to news items, information sheets, and training and education opportunities.
  • UDC amendments to implement a Settlement Agreement with the Washington Environmental Council (WEC) concerning protections for environmentally sensitive areas, in particular Wetlands and Fish and Wildlife Habitat Areas. Documents associated with case number MLA02-485 include:
  • Additional provisions for protecting groundwater in Jefferson County, particularly against seawater intrusion. The BOCC established a policy and amended the UDC in the year 2002 as a result of a Growth Management Act (GMA) compliance process. In June of 2003, the BOCC adopted additional regulations based upon a recommendation from the Planning Commission. In early 2004, the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board determined that the County's policies and regulations for seawater intrusion comply with the GMA.  Click here to link to a page dedicated to seawater intrusion policy, including adopted policy and regulations and corresponding maps of Seawater Intrusion Protection Zones (SIPZ).
  • In early 2004, the County adopted an Epilogue to the Brinnon Subarea Plan that included associated UDC amendments.  Visit the Brinnon Subarea Plan page for more information.
  • UDC amendments as part of the 2004 Comprehensive Plan Amendment Cycle  associated with the establishment of two "Airport Overlay Districts" around the Jefferson County International Airport and development regulations for the Airport Essential Public Facility (AEPF) district.  Visit the Airport planning issues page for details.
  • Housekeeping amendments to correct, clarify, and improve language in the UDC, as well as amendments to improve efficiency in development application review, per direction from the Board of County Commissioners.  These amendments are packaged as the "UDC Omnibus" and were adopted on July 10, 2006.


For more information, please contact:
Long-Range Planning
Department of Community Development
621 Sheridan Street

Port Townsend  WA 98368
Phone: 360-379-4450
Fax: 360-379-4451  



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