Two state agencies have appealed a state Supreme Courtt ruling that, in effect, endorsed Anacortes’ shoreline protection measures.
The Washington state departments of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED) and Ecology have asked the state Supreme Court to reconsider its recent decision in the case, known as “Futurewise v. Anacortes.”
On July 31, the Court reinstated a 2005 Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board decision interpreting a 2003 law that amended both the state Shoreline Management Act and Growth Management Act.
The Western Board hears disputes arising from the adoption of local plans and regulations under both Acts in cities and counties west of the Cascades outside King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
The state agencies had joined Futurewise, Evergreen Islands and Skagit Valley Audubon Society in the appeal.
“The Court’s decision conflicts with the statute, puts Ecology into a role never envisioned by the Legislature and will result in delay, unpredictability and higher costs for project proponents and less environmental protection,” said Ecology Director Jay Manning.
Critical area ordinances satisfy Growth Management Act requirements administered by local governments, and the GMA specifies that they take effect when adopted. Under the Court’s decision, some of these ordinances don’t take effect until Ecology formally approves them. The local rules are designed to protect environmentally sensitive areas within their jurisdiction such as steep slopes, wetlands, critical fish and wildlife habitat, and frequently flooded areas.
“We talked to local government officials across Washington and found the decision has created a great deal of confusion about what rules apply on the shoreline,” said CTED Director Juli Wilkerson. “We are requesting that the Supreme Court reconsider its ruling because the hearings board and Court’s decision seem to be in conflict.”