Urban Growth Area Expansion Update

“Growth” – A 6-letter word that will get your mouth washed out with soap if used around the Growth Management Hearings Board or certain activist organizations such as Futurewise or the Spokane County Neighborhood Alliance. Unfortunately, we also have to add to that list the Washington Department of Commerce and the Department of Transportation, which are really just standing in as proxies for Gov. Jay ‘Cap & Trade’ Inslee.

As you know, back in September 2013, Gov. Inslee directed his Commerce and Transportation department heads to challenge the Spokane County Urban Growth Boundary expansion. You can read the post I made about that here.

On Nov 26, 2013, the Eastern WA Growth Management Hearings Board tossed out the UGA update approved by Spokane’s Commissioners last summer after several years of work on the issue. So why specifically did they rule this way? [You can read the entire Order Here] It was largely a technicality – citing a revised population growth estimation that went without a public hearing. According to the documents, the board found that on July 18, 2013 after the public comment period had ended, the County increased its estimated population projection by 7,571, making the final revised number –  121,112.

The understanding now is that all the County has to do to fix the mistake is to go back and hold a new public hearing with regard to the slight tweak in population projection and then again approve the boundary expansion. In addition, the County can file an appeal to overturn the ruling. Both options are on the table and may be pursued by our County Commissioners.

Consider reaching out to the County Commissioners and give them support as they make this decision:

  • Phone: (509) 477-2265
  • Commissioner Todd Mielke – tmielke@spokanecounty.org
  • Commissioner Al French – afrench@spokanecounty.org
  • Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn – soquinn@spokanecounty.org

According to Daniel Walters at the Inlander, “640 lots, across six different properties countywide” have vested and can now move forward with development no matter the outcome of the challenge. Despite anti-growth activists calling this a loophole, it’s a really a common-sense tool to ensure predictability for all of the parties involved.

You can expect in either 2014 or 2015 that a strong assault on current vesting laws will be made back in Olympia. All the more important to have legislators back there willing to stand up for our property rights.