Dear San Juan County Neighbors and Friends,
Three days of hearings in Friday Harbor before the Growth Management Hearings Board (“Hearings Board”) on the San Juan County’s Critical Areas Ordinance (“CAO”) culminated in a decision received by the parties on Monday, September 9, 2013. The determination remanded the CAO back to the County for changes consistent with Order of the Hearings Board
that is found at the end of the 109 page document. The decision addressed only some of the issues raised by the 5 petitioners in the case, the Friends of the San Juans, the San Juan Builders Association, William H. Wright, P.J. Tagarres Company and Common Sense Alliance.
A core position that the Common Sense Alliance (“CSA”) took at the hearing is that an essential underpinning of the CAO, the proper designation of critical areas, has not been done by San Juan County. The Hearings Board dodged this issue by effectively saying that determining the legality of the County’s CAO is beyond its authority. By ducking the “legality” question the Hearings Board did not deal with the fundamental issue of whether the Ordinance, due to faulty construction, unlawfully interferes with the use of private property.
It is CSA’s contention that this flawed and incomplete decision leaves San Juan County with an unenforceable ordinance and the specter of an unknown number of future lawsuits brought by individuals who are denied the use their property. An unenforceable ordinance protects nothing and furthers the uncertainty in the real estate market that has been plaguing our County for so long.
CSA’s goal is an enforceable ordinance that complies with all aspects of the Growth Management Act, which is practical, reliable and good for our community, does not harm our fragile economy and makes a positive difference to our environment. CSA is consulting with the public and weighing its alternatives for future action.
Common Sense Alliance