The Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan...Some background:

A rural quality of life is what attracts many people to Jefferson County and is the very thing we want to protect. The Comprehensive Plan preserves and promotes those community values that affect that quality of life. The Plan directs more intensive development to appropriate areas while protecting and conserving environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands, as well as natural resources, rural character, and open space lands.

The 1998 Comprehensive Plan includes goals, policies, and strategies which help the County to achieve desired land uses depicted on the Land Use Map and guide us to a more predictable future. Each “element” in the Comprehensive Plan describes goals and policies. A goal is a direction-setter. It is a general expression of community values and, therefore, is abstract in nature. A policy is a specific statement that guides decision-making. Zoning, land division, and environmental ordinances are examples of implemented policies. A strategy describes how to implement policies to ensure that goals are met.

As our 2018 update deadline approaches, it’s time once again for the community to evaluate our values and translate them into meaningful and effectives goals, policies, and strategies. This is our time to think about what is important to our community and share our vision. What needs will we have in the future that we can address today for a better community and quality of life? How can we improve? This spectacular county is worth our attention.

Share your visions, update your “Comp” plan, and improve your community.

Read the Comprehensive Plan

2016 Comprehensive Plan 8-year Periodic Update Timeline

Comprehensive Update Information Brochure

Department of Community Development

Meeting in a Binder: Sit down with your group and learn about what is important to them and their communities. Discuss how the goals and policies of the comprehensive plan can be improved and share your ideas with the county. Meeting in a binder is a self-guided meeting to help break the ice with others in the community and work together to build a better Jefferson County. Instructions and materials can be accessed online here or contact if you'd like to check out one of the binders.

Input on the comprehensive plan can be commented on this SpeakUp website, but comments can also be made on the following surveys and mailed to the DCD office: 621 Sheridan St, Port Townsend, WA 98368 or emailed

See photos from the Quilcene, Port Ludlow, and Tri-Areas meeting in this slideshow!



Critical areas are environmentally sensitive areas in the landscape that are important for maintaining healthy, natural conditions that also support our local quality of life.  They include Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas, Frequently Flooded Areas, Geologically Hazardous Areas, Fish & Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas (FWHCA), and Wetlands. These “critical areas” provide many services humans value including economic opportunities, aesthetically pleasing communities, and a healthy environment. For example, wetlands help purify our water supply by trapping sediments and excess nutrients or heavy metals. Wetlands also perform numerous other functions such as flood protection, shoreline stabilization from forceful marine waves, groundwater recharge, and habitat used by many species for breeding, foraging, and cover.

In order to balance the effects of land development and use activities with environmental protection, Jefferson County adopted a Critical Areas Ordinance, now codified as Chapter 18.22 Jefferson County Code. The critical areas ordinance’s purpose is to ensure compliance with state law, the Growth Management Act, and to establish authorized methods and procedures to ensure the functions and values of critical areas are not degraded when allowing approved uses and development activities in the county. Adequate buffers between critical areas and any proposed development or land disturbing activity is one of the ways to protect critical areas. Another protective option is to implement a site-specific stewardship plan that provides more flexibility in mitigation proposals to compensate for impacts to critical areas and/or critical area buffers. Moreover, best management practices can be incorporated into existing or planned developments for critical areas to function better such as: 

- avoid using chemicals in areas where the runoff could get into surface water or infiltrate into groundwater, 

- avoid removing vegetation from critical areas and critical area buffers,  

- apply only the amount of irrigation water that can be absorbed into the ground, 

- and more! 

The Growth Management Act requires a periodic review and update of the county’s Critical Areas Ordinance every eight years. Jefferson County is currently working on this periodic update and will be engaging with citizens for input.  


Updated Draft Comprehensive Plan Available for Public Review; Planning Commission Public Hearings on April 18 and 19, 2018

The Jefferson County Planning Commission will hold two public hearings for the purposes of taking testimony on the draft 2018-2038 County Comprehensive Plan. The updated Plan contains goals and policies that will guide development, capital investments and other county decision and services over the next twenty years. The Plan Update is designed to meet requirements consistent with the Washington Growth Management Act.

The Planning Commission public hearings on the draft Comprehensive Plan will be on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at the Tri-Area Community Center, 10 West Valley Road, Chimacum and on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at the Quilcene Community Center, 294952 US 1201, Quilcene. Both hearings will be from 5:30 to 8:30 pm and include a pre-hearing Open House.

To view materials including the Draft Plan and proposed focused changes to the County‘s Unified Development Code Click HERE.

Written public comments will be accepted any time up through the close of the public hearing by emailing the Planning Commission or mailing comments to the Jefferson County DCD, 621 Sheridan Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368