Monday, August 27, 2007

Kittitas County's Growth Plan Struck Down

Mike Johnston, senior writer for the Ellensburg Daily Record, reports that the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board has struck down Kittitas County's growth plan.
" The state hearings board invalidated two land-use planning decisions contained in the county’s 2006 comprehensive plan and declared a list of other planning elements as out of compliance with the state’s Growth Management Act. The three-member state board also said the county’s continued use of three-acre zoning outside designated growth areas harms the county’s agricultural and other open spaces by encouraging urban-type growth in predominately rural areas."

Mr. Johnston goes on to quote the attorney for pro-development interests:

Other interveners in support of the county’s plan, the Building Industry Association of Washington and the Central Washington Home Builders’ Association, indicated they were disappointed in the decision, but not surprised. Attorney Andrew Cook of Seattle, representing the two groups, said the state hearings board is “notoriously anti-growth and anti-development, and this decision confirms this.” “The growth board has become so anti-growth that we, basically, expect we’ll lose at this level and appeal the case to the courts,” Cook said. “It’s disheartening, however, to consistently have unelected growth board members overturn laws enacted by elected officials.” He said the Monday decision imposes “Western Washington development standards on Eastern Washington residents.”
As of today, the decision hasn't been been posted on the Board's decision website. Update: Mr. Johnston also published another article concerning this matter that includes additional details.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ecology Wants Artificial Wetlands in the Basin Covered by Critical Area Ordinances

Shirley Wentworth, writing in the The Othello Outlook -- "In the Heart of the Columbia Basin," reports that the Department of Ecology wants wetlands associated with water from irrigation covered by the local CAOs.

"In a July letter to Adams County Planning Director Loren Wiltse, Ecology officials said that wetlands created from activities associated with the Columbia Basin Project should be included in the critical areas ordinance."

Interesting development, as the state continues to push regulatory responsibilities down to the counties. Hopefully, Ms. Wentworth and the Outlook will keep us updated.

The Bifurcation Works in the Columbia Basin Project

Alsea II: Judge Hogan Finds the NMFS Got It Right This Time

In an August 14, 2007 decision on cross motions for summary judgment, Michael R. Hogan, United States District Judge for the District of Oregon, found that the National Marine Fisheries Service could properly included some, but wasn't required to include all, hatchery stocks in determining the Endangered Species Act status of Environmental Significant Units (ESUs)of Pacific salmon and steelhead.

A loss for the property-owner plaintiffs, this decision will certainly be appealed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Tribes win ruling on salmon"

Robert McClure writing in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports on a decision in a major federal case concerning salmon and the problem of culverts.

"The state has breached its duties to Indian tribes under treaties dating to the 1850s by failing to maintain the road system, cutting off salmon from spawning grounds and robbing tribes of fish they were promised, a federal judge in Seattle ruled Wednesday. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez puts the state under the gun for tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars' worth of repairs to culverts, the pipes that carry streams below roads."