Northwest Land Matters

Northwest Land Matters

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

Category Archives: Municipal

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Mazama Pocket Gopher Threatened

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal
The Mazama pocket gopher is officially “threatened” in Thurston and Pierce counties.  After many years of debate, environmental studies, and litigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) finally announced the listing of four subspecies of Mazama pocket gophers as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as the designation of more than… Continue Reading

Marijuana Zoning Issues Heating Up

Posted in Land Use, Municipal, Uncategorized
It appears that getting the green light to operate a marijuana business depends on your zip code. Some local governments in Washington are taking action to ban medical and recreational marijuana operations, while others are permitting or even attempting to encourage marijuana businesses.  Jurisdictions permitting marijuana businesses may be welcoming decisions by others to adopt marijuana bans,… Continue Reading

White House Memorandum Aims to Speed Up Infrastructure Permitting

Posted in Development, Land Use, Land Use Planning, Municipal
On May 17, the White House issued a memorandum that directs federal agencies to “do what it takes to cut timelines for breaking ground on major infrastructure projects in half.” The memorandum builds on a March 22, 2012 executive order (Executive Order No. 13604) that aims to facilitate faster regulatory reviews of proposed transportation, water… Continue Reading

Congressman Norm Dicks Joins Van Ness Feldman

Posted in Environmental, Municipal
Congressman Norm Dicks has joined Van Ness Feldman as Senior Policy Counsel. Working with the firm’s Washington, DC and Seattle offices, Dicks will apply his years in public service to his new role, consulting with clients on a wide range of public policy, strategic, and regulatory issues, particularly those in the environmental sector.  He will… Continue Reading

Van Ness Feldman Launches Hurricane Sandy Resource Center

Posted in Development, Environmental, Municipal, Real Estate
Van Ness Feldman is helping clients navigate the complicated and often lengthy process of disaster recovery in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.   The Center’s purpose is to help affected businesses secure federal resources for rebuilding and to keep clients up-to-date with the latest post-Sandy developments in the areas of energy, environment, project development, real-estate, federal funding and public policy. Click on the… Continue Reading

Federal Funding Opportunities for Natural Resources, Agriculture, Alternative Energy, Water, and Energy Efficiency

Posted in Development, Energy Efficiency/Sustainability, Environmental, Land Use, Land Use Planning, Municipal, Water Law
Six opportunities totaling over $16.25 million in federal financial assistance were released this week, soliciting proposals in the major program areas of: Agriculture Alternative and Renewable Energy Energy Efficiency Public Lands and Natural Resources Water Van Ness Feldman’s Federal Funding Resource Center is an online information tool designed to inform our clients and friends about key energy-,… Continue Reading

Cascade Water Alliance: First Entity in Washington to Become A Joint Municipal Utilities Services Corporation

Posted in Development, Land Use, Municipal, Water Law
On July 12, 2012, Van Ness Feldman GordonDerr client Cascade Water Alliance  successfully converted to a municipal corporation (a Joint Municipal Utility Services Authority) from a non-profit Watershed Partnership.  Cascade, formed originally as a non-profit watershed management partnership, realized it lacked authorities of other utilities and had many areas of confusion, such as how to handle… Continue Reading

Federal District Court Denies Request for Preliminary Injunction To Halt The Sale Of Flood Insurance and Floodplain Map Revisions In The Puget Sound

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal, Real Estate
On April 12, 2012, Judge Martinez, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, issued a decision denying the National Wildlife Federation’s request for a preliminary injunction to halt the sale of flood insurance and floodplain map revisions in the Puget Sound stating that the NWF failed to demonstrate likely environmental harm absent the requested injunction.… Continue Reading

Idaho Passes Law that Prevents Local Governments from Blocking Oil and Gas Operations

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal
Idaho Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter signed House Bill 464, which prevents cities and counties in the state from banning oil and gas drilling operations.  The bill would still allow local governments to pass “reasonable local ordinances” that regulate zoning and planning issues related to oil and gas operations, while all other activities would be… Continue Reading

Van Ness Feldman Launches Federal Funding Resource Center

Posted in Climate Change, Development, Energy Efficiency/Sustainability, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal
We are pleased to announce the launch of our Federal Funding Resource Center – – an online information tool designed to inform our clients and friends about key energy-, environment-, and resource-related federal funding opportunities across a range of federal agencies including the Departments of Energy, Defense, Agriculture, and the Interior. The Federal Funding… 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

King County Streamlines Rules for Wetland Developments

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal
King County’s long developing program to accept cash payments for projects in need of wetland mitigation is expected to be formally approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers next week.  Under this program, King County takes on the obligation to build acceptable wetland mitigation and the Corps relieves the party filling the wetland and… Continue Reading

National Wildlife Federation Files New Suit Against FEMA – Seeking Injunction Halting the Sale of NFIP Flood Insurance in the Puget Sound Region

Posted in Climate Change, Development, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal
On Thursday December 8, 2011, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) initiated the most recent installment in their ongoing effort to force FEMA to change the way it operates the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).   In 2004, NWF filed a prior suit against FEMA, asserting that FEMA had violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because… Continue Reading

GordonDerr Combines Practices with Van Ness Feldman

Posted in Climate Change, Development, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal, Real Estate, Water Law
GordonDerr is excited to announce that the firm is combining with Van Ness Feldman, a nationally and regionally recognized energy, environment, transportation, and natural resources law and public policy firm with offices in Seattle and Washington, DC.  The combined firm will help a broad, national range of clients successfully navigate the next generation of real… 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

Bending Rules to Be Green?

Posted in Development, Land Use, Municipal
Skanska USA is poised to become the second developer participating in the City of Seattle’s “living building” pilot program.  The living building program offers incentives to develop green building projects by allowing the City to modify development standards for buildings that meet a set of sustainability criteria.  The Seattle Times is reporting that Skanska USA… 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

Reaction to the National Wildlife Federation Suing FEMA over Floodplains in Puget Sound

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal
GordonDerr partner, Molly Lawrence, reacts to notice that the National Wildlife Federation plans to sue the federal government, saying FEMA has failed to ensure that the national flood insurance program hasn’t harmed endangered salmon — or the orca whales that feed on the fish — in Puget Sound. Many Puget Sound communities have already adopted restrictive… Continue Reading

September 22nd NFIP Biological Opinion Implementation “Deadline” Passes – More Uncertainty Ahead

Posted in Development, Municipal
The September 22, 2011, alleged “deadline” for local jurisdictions to take action to implement Element 3 of the Reasonable and Prudent Alternative from the NFIP Biological Opinion has come and gone.  At this point, it appears that more than 75% of local jurisdictions have either formally selected “Door #3” – a permit by permit approach… Continue Reading

Model Ordinance for Municipal Solar Siting

Posted in Climate Change, Energy Efficiency/Sustainability, Municipal
Columbia Law School’s Center for Climate Change Law has prepared a first draft of a model small-scale solar-siting ordinance. The model ordinance offers a framework that can enable municipalities to implement and enforce the effective and efficient use of solar energy resources. The ordinance would govern all new solar energy systems of up to ten… Continue Reading

FEMA and NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service Contemplate Changes to the NFIP Biological Opinion While Local Jurisdictions Proceed with Efforts to Implement the 2008 Biological Opinion

Posted in Development, Environmental, Land Use, Municipal, Real Estate
With the September 23rd implementation “deadline” less than two months away, many of the 122 local jurisdictions participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are moving ahead to take some type of action to respond to the Biological Opinion issued by the NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service to FEMA Region X.  As many will recall,… Continue Reading

Angering Drivers, All Part of The Master Plan?

Posted in Development, Energy Efficiency/Sustainability, Land Use, Land Use Planning, Municipal
A recent New York Times article raises some interesting questions about how US cities might tackle increasing traffic congestion and subsequent pollution—by following the urban planning of many European cities, where trends are to make driving as irritating as possible, thereby almost forcing individuals to choose public transportation.  Interesting concept—plan a city/development around people NOT cars.  … Continue Reading