Master Planned Resorts
Our project, as specified by the Washington State Growth Management Act, is a Mom and Pop version of an M.P.R. (Master Planned Resort). Salient excerpts from the GMA follow:
In recent years, many of the resource-based industries that have traditionally provided jobs and income to rural residents have eliminated jobs or, in some cases, closed up shop altogether. Concerned county officials are under pressure to attract alternate sources of income, employment, and tax base to revive languishing local economies. Other counties may simply seek to take advantage of an area’s special natural features. In response to these needs, the legislature amended the Growth Management Act in 1997 to offer greater flexibility for new uses, services, and economic opportunities in rural areas, while attempting to limit negative effects on rural, resource and critical area lands. Master planned resorts and small-scale recreational or tourist uses are among the new uses that counties may choose to permit within rural areas.
Rural areas have been described by one growth management hearings board as the leftover meat loaf of Washington’s Growth Management Act (GMA). This observation was prompted by the indirect way that GMA defines rural areas. Rural areas are those lands that are not designated for urban growth, agricultural production, forestry or mineral resource use. The meaning of rural under Washington’s GMA continues to evolve. Although rural areas are not resource lands per se under GMA, rural areas have a close association with resource lands. Rural lands have served to provide support services and housing areas for farms, forestry, and mining operations. They also may provide a transition or buffer between resource and urban areas, and they often contain environmentally sensitive areas.
Many of the resource industries that have traditionally provided jobs and income to rural residents have more recently cut back or disappeared altogether from the scene. These GMA amendments provide flexibility for additional uses, services, and employment/economic opportunities in rural areas, while attempting to limit negative effects on rural, resource and critical area lands. Many of Washington’s rural areas offer magnificent scenic settings and natural amenities with potential to attract tourists and recreational enthusiasts. Resort and recreation uses can potentially provide additional sources of rural jobs and income. When carefully planned and sited, some of these recreation-related uses can be developed without jeopardizing neighboring resource uses or sacrificing rural character.
What the Heck are MPRs?
According to the GMA definition, master planned resorts (MPRs) are “self-contained and fully integrated planned unit development(s), in a setting of significant natural amenities, with primary focus on destination resort facilities consisting of short-term visitor accommodations associated with a range of developed on-site indoor or outdoor recreation facilities.” (RCW 36.70A.360(1))
Small-Scale Recreational or Tourist Uses Are Not Just Mini-MPRs
A county also may choose to allow small-scale recreational or tourist uses (SSRTs) that rely on a rural location and setting, within rural areas. Small-scale recreational or tourist uses generally will involve a more limited investment and a smaller scale of development on an individual parcel. They are not intended to be mini-MPRs, but generally will focus on offering one or several activities rather than broad range of activities or services. They may be a Ma & Pa type operation, but they still must provide access to a high-quality recreational opportunity to be successful.