Jefferson County’s Board of County Commissioners adopted an updated Critical Areas Ordinance that imposed massive no-build buffers on thousands of acres of private property that had been designated as containing “channel migration zone” areas. The County designated any land that a river or stream might occupy over the next 100 years (by veering from its current course) a “critical area,” prohibiting landowners from using or developing the property, and ordering that it be set aside as “natural vegetation.” In so doing, the County ignored scientific evidence based specifically on the environment in Jefferson County.
Pacific Legal Foundation challenged the regulations on behalf of the Olympic Stewardship Foundation, a nonprofit group of citizens from Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. In a major victory against uncompensated government seizure of private property in Washington State, the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board struck down Jefferson County’s “channel migration zone” regulations. Although the Hearings Board decided the case primarily on the county’s lack of scientific basis for its regulations, OSF’s constitutional challenge remains viable.
Current Status: Petition for review filed with the Washington Supreme Court on Feb. 24, 2012.
By Brian Hodges, Mar 5, 2012 Pacific Legal Foundation Blog