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A Non-Conforming Use Designation

The Growth Management Act requires local jurisdictions to adopt regulations to protect specific land areas designated as critical areas. The regulatory encumbrances from critical area ordinance overlay designations are having significant impacts for property owners across the state. The encumbered "critical areas and buffer" portions of a private parcel are largely unavailable for the owners use. The no-use restrictions reduce both the economic value of the property and the beneficial use to the property owner.

It is not just new development that is affected by a critical area overlay.   A non-conforming use restricted designation is placed on the land area occupied by existing farms, homes and businesses when the pre-existing legal developed use is within the overlay boundaries of a critical area or the critical area protective buffer.

Under a non-conforming use classification, future uses of the property are limited. The published long term goal of the State agencies responsible for the critical area approval process is that, over time, the non-conforming use will cease and the parcel will achieve compliance with the critical area overlay.

San Juan County citizens value the environment and support fair and reasonable development regulations.   However, it is unlikely informed citizens support critical area regulations imposed on already developed property.  To reasonable people, the reclassification of existing homes and uses would not be viewed as fair or reasonable.  The regulatory taking of a  property owners use and investment in his or her existing home, farm or business strikes most citizens "as just not right".