Clark County Council presses pause on Rural Industrial Land Bank development

The development moratorium is a show of good faith for the state’s Land Use Hearings Board

CLARK COUNTY — In the midst of an ongoing appeal over the county’s Comprehensive Growth Management Plan, the council decided to press pause on any development inside the Rural Industrial Land bank.

“This could be our Christmas card to the hearings board,” said Councilor Eileen Quiring. ‘And to ourselves.”

The Clark County Council hears testimony at a recent meeting. Photo by Chris Brown
The Clark County Council hears testimony at a recent meeting. Photo by Chris Brown

The move comes amid a long-running legal fight over the comprehensive plan, which is required under the state’s Growth Management Act. The Growth Management Hearings Board ruled earlier this year that the county’s plan allows cities to improperly expand their borders through annexation, and has failed to address urban sprawl and protect farmland.

“The Growth Board has suggested that the county should repeal the Rural Industrial Land Bank in whole,” said Christine Cook, the county’s Deputy District Attorney. “To do that would be to make our appeals mute and render the appeals ineffective.”

Instead, the council decided to pass a moratorium at their most recent meeting, banning any projects within the Rural Industrial Land Bank, two parcels of land totaling 600 acres along SR-503 south of Brush Prairie.

This 2016 map shows the proposed Rural Industrial Land Bank area. Image courtesy Clark County Community Planning
This 2016 map shows the proposed Rural Industrial Land Bank area. Image courtesy Clark County Community Planning

“That is certainly less of a surrender than repealing the Land Bank,” said Cook.

The move comes as part of a long running legal battle over the county’s 2016 comprehensive growth plan. Friends of Clark County and Futurewise, a land-use advocacy group in Seattle, sued, arguing the county had failed to protect farmland. Last year, the council voted to change several aspects of the growth plan in an effort to come in compliance with the hearings board’s ruling. The Land Bank ruling remains under appeal.

There are currently no planned developments in the pipeline for the Rural Industrial Land Bank, and the county says they had no intention of moving ahead with any prior to a final ruling from the state. However, this move was seen as a way to convince the hearings board that the county won’t try to jump the gun.

The resolution adopted at the council’s latest meeting was an emergency ordinance, and no public testimony was heard.

“In order for it to remain in effect for more than 60 days, the county must come back, hold a hearing, take public testimony, and adopt findings,” said Cook.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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