Justia Washington Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Environmental Law
by
Petitioners Louise Lauer and Darrell de Tienne separately owned properties that border a lot owned by Mike and Shima Garrison. Through a Land Use Petition Act (LUPA) petition, Petitioners challenged a fish and wildlife variance granted to the Garrisons by Pierce County (the County) to build a single family residence within the protective buffer zone of a stream that runs across the Garrisons' property. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether the Garrisons' rights vested in 2004 when they submitted their building application. The Garrisons also raised questions about the standing and timeliness of Petitioners' claim, as well as whether the relevant critical area regulation even applies to the Garrisons' shoreline property. Upon review, the Court held that Petitioners properly petitioned the superior court for review and that, because the Garrisons' building permit application contained misrepresentations of material fact, the Garrisons' rights did not vest in 2004. View "Laurer v. Pierce County" on Justia Law

by
The issue on appeal to the Supreme Court was whether RCW 82.02.020, which generally prohibits local governmental bodies from imposing taxes or fees on development, applied to shoreline master programs (SMP) created pursuant to the Shoreline Management Act of 1981. Members of the Citizens for Rational Shoreline Planning (CRSP) owned land regulated under Whatcom County's SMP. The group filed a complaint alleging, in part, that the regulations contained in the SMP constituted a direct or indirect tax, fee or charge on development in violation of RCW 8202.020. The superior court dismissed the claim for failure to state a claim for which relief could be granted. The appellate court affirmed. Upon review of the implicated legal authorities, the Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court: "[w]hile local jurisdictions play a role in tailoring SMPs to local conditions, the Shoreline Management Act dictates that the Department of Ecology retains control over the final contents and approval of SMPs. Therefore, SMP regulations are the product of state action and are not subject to RCW 82.02.020." View "Citizens for Rational Shoreline Planning v. Whatcom County" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners Jack and Delaphine Feil appealed the issuance of development permits for the construction of a pedestrian and bike trail by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. "Rocky Reach Trail" was scheduled for development entirely on public property. The Feils are orchardists and members of the Right to Farm Association of Baker Flats. Their property abuts the public property on which the proposed trail would be sited. They contended a developed trail would force the removal of mature fruit trees within the right-of-way, and that the trail violated multiple zoning ordinances that governed the area at issue. The Feils brought several unsuccessful appeals through the Commission and state development-management boards before taking their appeal to the superior court. The superior court dismissed their claims. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the site's comprehensive plan supported the proposed Rocky Reach Trail and affirmed the lower court's decision to dismiss the orchardists' claims. View "Feil v. E. Wash. Growth Mgmt. Hearings Bd." on Justia Law