Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"County, city issues come to forefront at forum"

County official defends land-use planning efforts

Mark Bordsen was surprised to find Whitman County had zoning when he became the county planner in 1990.

The rural areas of Montana that Bordsen was familiar with didn’t have zoning. They didn’t think they needed it. Whitman County, however, had been doing land-use planning since at least the 1970s.

Bordsen defended the county’s efforts at land-use planning at a League of Women Voters forum Monday night at Neill Public Library.

The forum was designed to educate local voters about Washington’s Growth Management Act and Initiative 933, a ballot measure intended to strengthen individuals’ private property rights. It also could roll back land-use and environmental regulations enacted within the last 10 years.

The League of Women Voters of Pullman brought in Elizabeth Davis, a league member from Whidbey Island, Wash., who helped author a study of the Growth Management Act, to talk about the act and the possible effects of Initiative 933.

The League of Women Voters of Washington has stated its opposition to the initiative because it is too broad, Davis said.

She acknowledged there is a need to protect property owners from capricious or unnecessarily damaging regulations, but said the initiative went too far in trying to accomplish that goal.

“It’s like the proverbial sledgehammer hitting the fly,” Davis said.

The initiative text includes not only real property, or land, but personal property as well. That could include things like stocks or literary rights, she said.

Neither Bordsen nor Pullman Planning Director Pete Dickinson, who both came to talk about the Growth Management Act, could comment on the initiative because of their roles as public officials.

Bordsen did, however, say he was thankful Whitman County had opted out of planning under the Growth Management Act when it was enacted over two legislative sessions in 1990 and 1991. Many counties that did choose to plan under the act have faced numerous lawsuits over the past 15 years, he said.

The act requires cities and counties to develop comprehensive plans with clearly delineated urban growth areas and provisions to protect agricultural land and forests, Dickinson said.

Both the city and the county already had developed comprehensive plans when the act was adopted by the Legislature, and Whitman County wrote laws to protect farmland in the 1970s, Bordsen said.

In recent years, the city and county have been increasingly at odds over the city’s designated urban growth areas. The city wants to preserve land for future growth, while the county wants to offer residents more opportunities for housing closer to Pullman.

The county doesn’t want to “hem Pullman in,” Bordsen said, but it would like to see more given in exchange for the county disallowing development near Pullman’s borders.

One thing Bordsen would like to see Pullman do is agree to extend water to commercial development just outside its boundaries. That would benefit both the city and the county, he said, but the city so far has refused.

Dickinson noted it has become more difficult for Pullman to plan for future growth with more development being allowed on county land near its borders.

Both men agreed more negotiation and cooperation is necessary.
Gee, what a shocker. Liberal Women Voters are against I-933. How very fair of them to have someone actually IN FAVOR of Initiative 933 speak at thr forum to counter the lies of the opposition. The Growth Management Act is a monstrosity for rural areas.

I-933 "goes too far"? How can you go too far in protecting private property rights? Does the LWV believe that you can go "too far" in protecting free speech rights? How about civil rights? Why is it with liberals that all rights are not created equal?

As far as the city and county go, I do believe they should cooperate. We have to remember who our real competition is for housing and retail.

But make no mistake about it. Mark Bordsen can defend it all he likes, but the county's rural zoning ordinance from the 70s has devastated growth in Pullman and Whitman County both. This is a document whose purpose reads "to prevent urban and suburban growth" and that's exactly what it has done.


April E. Coggins said...

From the Seattle PI: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/288126_landuse10.html

All six of Washington's living former governors joined Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday in speaking out against property-rights Initiative 933, saying that the proposal is poorly drafted and that an issue as sweeping as property fairness should be dealt with by the Legislature.

Apparently the gentry of our state doesn't believe the grubby peasants have the mental capacity to make such important decisions for themselves! The entire article is insulting and illustrates further the need to take control back from the elitists.

Tom Forbes said...

Sure, politicians, including sadly many Republicans, feel that they can do a better job of managing your property than you can.

It's feudalism all over again. We just work the land. They really own it.

Brian said...

It’s jsut so outrageous how far politicians and their cronies have gone in their efforts to disenfranchise homeowners when they see a more lucrative use for their property.

Take a gander at this website and see how you can protect your home


Join me in voting YES on I-933

Ray Lindquist said...

If LWV is for "it" as a general rule of thumb a person who cares about there rights, life, liberty, and thier country; will be against what LWV is for.