http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/5020609p-4580976c.html
 
Pierce County passed a critical areas update nearly as draconian as King County's.  Not good enough for some environmental activist groups, though.  Perhaps CAPR should contact Pierce County Councilman Terry Lee (R-Gig Harbor) and recommend Bob Crittenden's services to him as a way to help Lee protect his constituents' property rights?  I'd be willing to bet that the buffers don't have to be anywhere near as extensive as the "best available science" says, and that testimony from Dr. Crittenden could help protect Lee's constituents' rights.
 
I think it's also a good time for CAPR to approach shoreline property owners in Pierce County and see if they might want to join in.
 
Although another ruling, mentioned at the end of the article, allows the development of a conference center within the Mount Rainier hazard area, the Growth Management Hearings Board made a really eye-opening comment as part of the decision...one that has huge implications as we move forward.
...no part of the state’s 15-year-old growth law “appears to require the County to make human life and safety its paramount concern when adopting critical areas regulations.”
Although this applies to a conference center, this turn of phrase can now be used as precedent in other decisions in the future.  It means that any government entity in Washington can make growth management and environmental protection decisions without taking human life and safety into consideration.  Do you live far enough away from urban areas that your neighborhood has a wildfire escape road?  This ruling would appear to mean that the county is no longer under any obligation to ensure that you even have an escape road, much less that they should maintain it so that it is safe enough to travel on.  It also means they have a foundation upon which they can deny you permission to build one of your own.  All they have to do is to determine that such a road would enter into some kind of critical area...and we know how easily they can define one of those.
 
    Norman

County must return to shoreline buffer proposal
 
AARON CORVIN; The News Tribune
Published: July 14th, 2005 12:01 AM
 
Pierce County violated the state’s Growth Management Act when it failed to protect aquatic life along 176 miles of shoreline and instead deleted those protections from a package of conservation laws, a state hearings board has decided.
 
Tuesday’s decision by the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board orders the County Council to fix that part of an ordinance it approved in October 2004.
 
The decision was a response to a Jan. 13 appeal filed by Citizens for a Healthy Bay and People for Puget Sound. The environmental groups wanted Pierce County to impose a 150-foot vegetative buffer along the marine shoreline in unincorporated areas to reduce beach erosion and protect the marine food web.
 
The buffer proposal has been a sore point with shoreline property owners who fear the effect it would have on their ability to use their land.
 
The “critical areas” ordinances are intended to protect the most sensitive wildlife habitat. They affect stormwater, paving, tree retention and development in those areas and around wetlands, streams and rivers.
 
The state’s growth law calls on local governments to limit sprawl and protect natural areas.
 
Leslie Ann Rose, senior policy analyst for Citizens for a Healthy Bay, said she hopes the county responds to the board’s decision with a balanced critical areas policy.
 
“There were a lot of concerns that were expressed by the community the first time out,” she said, referring to waterfront landowners on the Gig Harbor peninsula who bombarded county officials with complaints about losing development rights.
 
“We really do need to start with the community and bring them into the process. We’re not talking about every square inch of Puget Sound shoreline. The first thing that really needs to happen is to look at those areas that require protection.”
 
The hearings board ordered Pierce County to fix the problem by Jan. 12, 2006.
 
County Councilman Terry Lee (R-Gig Harbor), who persuaded other council members to take marine shorelines out of the ordinance, said he doesn’t plan to challenge the hearings board’s decision in court.
 
He said he generally understood the board’s decision but hadn’t read it yet because it was just released.
 
“I plan to continue to work for my constituents’ personal property rights,” he said. “I do plan to work to comply with the hearings board’s directions.”
 
Pierce County’s set of critical areas ordinances took effect March 1. They limit the amount of pavement in subdivisions and commercial developments and require developers to retain more trees, among other things.
 
In a related development, the hearings board upheld a part of the county’s new conservation laws that allows developers to build a conference facility for up to 500 people in the Mount Rainier hazard area between Ashford and Elbe as long as a written escape plan is created.
 
The Tahoma Audubon Society had appealed that policy, arguing it violated the Growth Management Act because it lacked sound scientific footing.
 
The hearings board disagreed, saying that no part of the state’s 15-year-old growth law “appears to require the County to make human life and safety its paramount concern when adopting critical areas regulations.”