Clallam County drops hold on Carlsborg development


Sequim Gazette staff

Businesses in Carlsborg can once again expand.


Growth has been stymied in the unincorporated area since 2008 when the Washington State Growth Management Hearings Board declared the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area (UGA) lacked a sewer plan and was therefore out of compliance with state law.


The county has spent the past three years both challenging the ruling in court and working to develop a wastewater treatment plan.


In its Order of Dismissal, filed Friday, June 1, the board essentially overturned the original order, declaring it lacks jurisdiction to compel the county to create a sewer plan.


“I think it’s a great vindication of the county’s opinion,” said Clallam County Commissioner Jim McEntire.


The wastewater treatment plans will continue to go forward, but people will be able to exercise their property rights, he said.


“It’s clear future growth in Carlsborg will require that kind of infrastructure,” he said.


The case has been heard in several venues.The original order was appealed by the county to the Clallam County Superior Court. That court’s decision was in turn appealed to the Court of Appeals, Division II. On April 20, 2011, the court of appeals sent the case back to the board, along with specific instructions to determine if the board had the jurisdiction to require the sewer plan.


The issue turned on whether the state had provided the county with funding required under the Growth Management Act.


The order to dismiss notes that in 2002 the Washington Legislature amended state law, thereafter requiring the state to provide funds sufficient to cover the costs incurred by a local government as it incorporates into its capital facilities plan “any new or amended elements” required by the board.


The law further states that the funding must be provided at least two years before the capital facilities plan is required by law to be updated. Otherwise, the order “to incorporate any such new or amended elements shall be null and void.”


In its formal determination, the board concluded there is no evidence the state provided the funds.


Because the state failed to provide the funds and because, the board noted, “The period of time within which to file an appeal has lapsed,” the board found it lacks jurisdiction in the case and issued the order of dismissal.


Clallam County Development Director Sheila Miller was pleased with the news, saying, “There are lots of smiles around the courthouse today.”


Miller added that her office is waiting to hear if there is a 10-day waiting period associated with the order to dismiss.


Next week, the Clallam County commissioners are likely to move forward in lifting the moratorium on Carlsborg development, she said.


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