Northwest Land Matters

Northwest Land Matters

Developments in Energy, Natural Resources & Environmental, Real Estate, and Land Use Law in the Pacific NW

Category Archives: Growth Management Act

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Planning the Future of Your Farm

Posted in Growth Management Act, Land Use, Uncategorized
The Washington Conservation Commission’s Office of Farmland Preservation recently published Planning the Future of Your Farm, a workbook for families who want to keep their farmland in production and/or “in the family” as it passes to the next generation.  Among other tools, the publication addresses how to navigate the challenges families face in managing the… Continue Reading

New Legislation Aids Environmental Planning/Development

Posted in Development, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Land Use Planning
The Washington State legislature recently passed a bill that incentivizes upfront environmental planning by local governments and increases SEPA predictability for developers.  This legislation will help ensure infrastructure is installed in a timely manner, consistent with adopted standards, and will add clarity for both the developer and the city on the limits and requirements of… Continue Reading

Natural Resources Reform Bill Signed Into Law

Posted in Environmental, Growth Management Act, Land Use
In April, I provided a summary of SSB 6406, dubbed the Natural Resources Reform Bill.  This Washington State legislation made changes to natural resource and environmental review and permitting, and was passed by the legislature on April 10, 2012.  On May 2, 2012 Governor Gregoire signed the bill into law, but added a signing statement  clarifying one… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules That Private Parties Do Not Have Avenue For Relief in Appeals of Docketing Decisions

Posted in Growth Management Act, Land Use, Municipal
Last week, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in Stafne v. Snohomish County, reversing a lower appellate court decision that had caused consternation among local jurisdictions throughout the state.  The case clarifies the ability of a party to appeal a local jurisdiction’s decision to reject a privately-initiated proposal to amend a comprehensive plan amendment as… Continue Reading

Investco’s Orton Junction: A Development Done Right.

Posted in Development, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Municipal, Real Estate
Development and conservation need not always be at odds.  The Pierce County Council recently approved Orton Junction, “a new model of development that contributes to the economic strength and livability of our cities and breaks the old habit of sprawling across the countryside.” This agreement represents a model solution that provides for services and jobs… Continue Reading

Jay Derr Testifies in Olympia on Washington State Land Use and Environmental Regulations

Posted in Development, Environmental, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Municipal
Partner Jay Derr testified before the State Legislature, sharing perspective on local land use and environmental regulations in the State of Washington.  Insight was given on the Growth Management Act (GMA), the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), the Shoreline Management Act (SMA), the various growth management boards throughout the State, and numerous specialized development and… Continue Reading

EPA Releases Report on Incorporating Climate Change Information Into Land Protection Planning

Posted in Climate Change, Development, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Land Use Planning
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just released a report assessing the feasibility of incorporating climate change impacts into planning and decision-making for land preservation efforts by government agencies and nonprofit land trusts.  The report reviewed existing decision-making processes for selected land protection programs and suggested strategies for better incorporating climate change into those processes.  These… Continue Reading

Repealing GMA? Might Washington follow Florida’s lead?

Posted in Growth Management Act, Land Use, Municipal
The Florida State Legislature repealed its growth management legislation last spring.  While Florida’s repeal still permits local jurisdictions to implement growth management planning tools by their own choice, there are no longer state mandates (nor state oversight) in Florida to do so.  Economic development and jobs were the key reasons articulated for the repeal.  Washington’s Growth… Continue Reading

Legislature Says Puget Sound Partnership Not On Track

Posted in Development, Environmental, Growth Management Act, Land Use
A legislative audit committee has issued a report stating that that the Puget Sound Partnership has failed to meet Legislative directives for the restoration of Puget Sound. This report will likely spur the Partnership to move more quickly toward taking concrete action, including advocating for stricter development regulations. In 2007, the Legislature created the Puget Sound… Continue Reading

Rezoning Decisions Are Made by Local Governments, Not the Courts

Posted in Development, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Municipal
There are two different types of rezoning decisions: area-wide rezones and site-specific rezones. Traditionally, both types of rezones were considered to be purely legislative decisions and, like all legislative decisions, were given a high degree of deference by the courts.  Since the passage of the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA) in 1995, however, site-specific rezones… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules on the Role of Special Purpose Districts in Concurrency Determinations

Posted in Growth Management Act, Land Use, Municipal
On Thursday, May 5, the state Supreme Court issued a decision in Whatcom County Fire District No. 21 v. Whatcom County, which has implications on concurrency determinations for development proposals.  “Concurrency” is captured in the twelfth goal of the growth management act and requires that an adequate level of service should be available at the time… Continue Reading

Cottage Communities: Sprawl Dressed In A More Stylish Outfit?

Posted in Development, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Land Use Planning, Real Estate
Cottage communities are gaining popularity across the country for those wanting less space and more convenience without losing access to a yard.   Touted as anti-sprawl and as more sustainable than other forms of single family housing,  Seattle-based architect Ross Chapin has compared cottages to the Mini Cooper: “smart, sensual, well-engineered and reliable.” Successful cottage developments in urban areas… Continue Reading

Can Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Programs Work in Washington State?

Posted in Development, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Land Use Planning, Municipal
The City of Issaquah recently announced a complex agreement involving a transfer of development rights (TDR) transaction that will preserve more than 140 acres of forested land in and around the City, including the entire Park Pointe area at the base of Tiger Mountain. Several years ago, a developer had proposed to build hundreds of… Continue Reading

Are Fully Contained Communities A Thing of The Past?

Posted in Development, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Land Use Planning, Municipal
Kitsap’s population grew 8.3% over the past ten years placing it 11th from the bottom in population growth rates among Washington’s 39 counties.  Perhaps the lack of population pressure contributed to Kitsap County’s decision to consider prohibiting Fully Contained Communities, as authorized by the Washington Growth Management Act.   In concept, a Fully Contained Community (FCC)… Continue Reading

Jurisdictions Updating Shoreline Master Programs: Dramatic Changes May Be Coming

Posted in Development, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Municipal
Jurisdictions throughout the state are in varying stages of updating their local shoreline master programs (SMPs).  While several have completed the process, others, like Seattle are still relatively early in the process, and some have yet to start.  Each jurisdiction’s progress is shown on the Department of Ecology’s website. SMPs regulate development and land use within… Continue Reading

Keep an Eye on Anticipated Changes to the National Flood Insurance Program

Posted in Environmental, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Municipal
FEMA, NOAA-National Marine Fisheries (NMFS), Puget Sound Partnership and other partnering organizations held a two day conference March 1st and 2nd in Edmonds in an effort to help local governments, technical consultants and other NGOs understand options for implementing the Biological Opinion (“BiOP”) issued by NMFS in September 2008 regarding FEMA’s implementation of the National… Continue Reading

Additional Incentives For Smart Growth

Posted in Development, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Land Use Planning, Municipal
As discussed in “Smart Growth = Better Bottom Line?”, recent studies demonstrate that dense, mixed-use urban development centered around public transit (“smart growth”) can translate into economic gains for local businesses, citizens, and the government.  An additional cost-saving tool also available to eligible cities passed last year:  the “Compact, High-Density Urban Development” bill. Although a… Continue Reading

Smart Growth = Better Bottom Line?

Posted in Development, Energy Efficiency/Sustainability, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Land Use Planning
This month the Center for Clean Air Policy released a study Growing Wealthier: Smart Growth, Climate Change and Prosperity which argues that “smart growth” can lead to economic gains by the private sector, governments, and local citizens . “Smart growth” describes development that reduces suburban sprawl, makes efficient use of public utilities, and fosters mixed-use and… Continue Reading

Are Local Land Use Plans Ready for Emerging Housing Trends?

Posted in Development, Growth Management Act, Land Use, Municipal
Jonathan Miller, in his recent Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2011 forecast prepared for the Urban Land Institute suggests we are entering a new economic period that he calls the “Era of Less”—less home ownership; smaller size housing; and the need for less “stuff” to put in less space.  Tougher lending requirements; former homeowners re-entering… Continue Reading

Sustainable Communities Inaugural Planning Grant Winners

Posted in Development, Growth Management Act, Land Use Planning
On Thursday, Ron Sims was back in Seattle to award HUD’s first Sustainable Communities Planning Grants.  The Puget Sound Regional Council was awarded a grant of $5 million and Thurston County Regional Planning Council was awarded a grant of $1.5 million. Congratulations! The Sustainable Communities Planning Grant is part of the Sustainable Communities Initiative, a… Continue Reading

GMA After 20 Years: Encouraging (not just requiring) Urban Growth in UGAs

Posted in Growth Management Act
In this installment of our ongoing series on the state of the GMA after 20 years, we explore challenges in achieving one of the GMA’s central goals: encouraging urban growth. The Urban Growth goal, concentrating growth in urban growth areas (UGAs),  is a cornerstone of the GMA.  The goal and associated GMA provisions require counties… Continue Reading

Revisiting “Bottom Up” Planning and Local Discretion: Voters Weigh In On Growth

Posted in Growth Management Act
A recent ballot measure in Florida is making national headlines and is raising the fundamental question of who should be entrusted with the authority to make land use planning decisions.  If adopted, the ballot measure would require local voter approval for comprehensive planning and zoning decisions.  It is a reaction to public displeasure with decisions of local governments… Continue Reading

Washington Growth Management Act After 20 Years: Working or Not?

Posted in Growth Management Act
2010 marks 20 years since the Washington Growth Management Act (GMA) was first passed by the state legislature with a stated purpose of addressing the significant threat posed by the then-current system of “uncoordinated and unplanned” growth in the state.  GMA was born out of political compromise and significant public debate over what level of… Continue Reading