Monday, January 22, 2007

Small Lots Platted Long Ago Pose Big Problem to Growth Management Act: Updated

As reported by Christopher Dunagan of the, "State agencies will not adopt health regulations to artificially control growth in rural areas, according to Jim Bolger of the Kitsap County Department of Community Development."

The problem arose when a developer cobbled together many small lots, platted before the Growth Management Act, and, proposing to use new, high-tech septic systems that do away with leach fields, found a way to put 78 homes on 12 acres in an area now zoned for one house per five acres. But since the small lots were platted before the zoning, they are presumably grandfathered in. Big problem for low-growth supporters, neighbors, and traffic. There are many such small lots in Kitsap County (on the west side of Puget Sound), but previously the need for leach fields and traditional septic systems made them unbuildable. The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners has slapped on a moratorium, and scheduled a public hearing on the matter for February 12th in Port Orchard.

Opponents of these type of developments had hoped the state agencies would forbid the use of such systems in rural areas. Apparently not. Will the legislature act? If so, will its action survive a regulatory-takings challenge?

But is the right to develop these lots really vested? Not so clear, not so clear.