On April 25, the Clark County Council sprung an emergency ordinance on the rural citizens that stops all land divisions in resource and rural zones. This wasn’t noticed, and copies of the emergency ordinance were not available to the public for review.
The citizens had no opportunity to weigh in prior to the voting by the Board of County Councilors, 4-1. Councilor Eileen Quiring was the only who remained true to her constituency.
Upon close examination, the specific emergency reasons for justifying the conclusion of an emergency moratorium don’t exist. Enacting a land division moratorium is a drastic measure requiring sufficient facts to rationalize it according to state laws.
County Ordinance #2017-04-14 bases the emergency on a potential loss of “funding for transportation improvements” if land use zoning (under appeal) changes are allowed at this time.
Lines 33-36 of the Ordinance state: “Non-compliance and invalidity under GMA threatens the County’s ability to apply and receive favorable consideration for grants and loans from Washington State Public Works Fund to the detriment of the County’s ability to construct and improve needed transportation infrastructure throughout the county…”
In short, the county shut down all rural growth because of a disjointed fear of possibly losing state funding for county-wide transportation projects. The state rarely does this so tying rural growth to a fear of funding is faulty. Labeling the ordinance as an emergency was a deliberate maneuver to skirt the requirements of the open public meetings act.
One week later, on May 2, Futurewise and Friends of Clark County (FOCC) withdrew their appeal of the County’s growth plan. The emergency moratorium suspiciously takes on the appearance of a settlement effort with Futurewise and FOCC. Did the county councilors negotiate away what few options they gave rural property owners after 23 years of neglect? A proper formal hearing on the moratorium isn’t scheduled.
The underhanded manner, in which the Board of County Councilors enacted the emergency moratorium is disturbing. If the Board traded away rural private property rights like a commodity, shame on them. Rural citizens make investments, pay taxes, provide jobs, vote for school levies, and are required to carry more than their fare share of burdens that go along with Growth Management Act planning. The actions of the councilors fail to dignify rural citizens.
Clark County Citizens United, Inc.