"property rights initiative"

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Will Atlas, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. riverrun

    riverrun Member

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    From what I know, there is no such thing as a 6 month window in Washington state or Skagit County. On the contrary, unless I successfully file a "complete application" for a building permit before the new zoning recommendations take effect, I lose my rights, forever. Filing of a complete application may not be possible before the new zoning goes into effect.

    What is most discouraging about this timing is that the Forest Advisory Board began their "recommendation" process in July and began contemplating specific proposals to my land at the same time. Their final proposal to the Planning Commission was made in November. My first notice of their final proposal (the effect of which is to prohibit buiding on my land) came from a Planning Commission member, acting as a concerned, similarly situated citizen two weeks ago. Unfortunately, much of the critical time for me to complete the building application process transpired during this period. My first official notice of the action against my property came on this last Saturday. The public comment period on the Forest Advisory Board recommendations expires on April 18 and the Planning Commission could implement new zoning regulations within 30-60 days thereafter.

    Whether we have enough time to jump through all the permit hoops, complete our Critical Areas Assesments, get septic design, house plans, well, etc. in the remaining time remains to be seen. Even if we are able to get the application filed on time and save one site for our retirement, the process will result in us losing 7 other rights we purchased under the laws existing when we bought the property. Not to mention that we are being forced to take action before our planned time frame to defend against this taking. And for who's benefit?
     
  2. riverrun

    riverrun Member

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    Sorry, in rereading my first posting, I made a typo. Industrial Forest zoning allows only 1 home on 80 acres, not 20 as my errant typing indicated.
     
  3. Cactus

    Cactus Dana Miller

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    riverrun,

    It would be in your best interest to consult with a land use attorney familier with the laws in Skagit County ASAP! You may still have time to segregate your property into 40 seperate 20 acre parcels under the current regulations. In most cases, as long as you start the process to sub-devide your property prior to the effective date of the new regulations you will be OK. I don't know how Skagit County works but that is how it works in Pierce County.

    You WILL most likely have to follow through and proceed with the subdivision in the near future - possible sooner than you would like. That wouldn't mean you necessarily have to sell them at this time (other than one or two to recoup some of your development costs), but you would at least have the option in the future. My legal education is pretty much limited to watching re-runs of Judge Judy while at the gym:clown: , so please find a good attorney.

    Just as the property rights advocates like to run out stories about grandma losing the ranch, restrictive zoning advocates like to run out the ideas that only millionaire developers will be effected. Unfortunately these sweeping land use laws regularly do effect people like riverrun and his wife as you can see. Any attempt to exempt people like riverrun while applying only to the "big guys" would most likely be challenged as unequal treatment under the law.

    Thats not to argue that zoning shouldn't be done; good zoning regulations can protect the value of our property (and environment) when done right. But the laws have to be very carefully constructed.
     
  4. riverrun

    riverrun Member

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    Ned and Jane:

    The Forest Advisory Board has made their recommendations already to the Planning Commission. I have tried to access them, but it is too late. If they had notified me during their deliberation process, I think I might have had a chance to avoid their recommendation on my property, even if the FAB consists of all Industrial Forestry reps with the exception of one. (That one non industrial forest rep has no effective role in many matters since they vote by a simple majority). Now I am left in the unfortunate position of undoing their recommendations to the Planning Commission. Of course, I will ask them to overrule the FAB's recs, but I am told by people in the know that success is unlikely. As explained in my other post, grandfathering ("vesting") only occurs upon filing of a completed building permit application. This is really quite an onerous task to accomplish even on one lot in a matter of months. No matter what, I will be unable to capture the full value of the asset I bought in reliance on the County's existing zoning regulations. As Cactus points out, once filed, vesting under the now existing zoning lasts only 5 years, forcing me to take action outside of my planned time frame. I am being forced to take the course of filing for a permit but am also consulting with an attorney on opposing the changes.

    And what purpose does rushing a landowner into developing land to preserve his existing rights and value serve? I think it is counterproductive and potentially harmful to the extent it encourages the same practice with developers.

    At the moment, this whole process is cutting deeply into my fishing time, which is really the most severe kind of taking without just compensation is it not?
     
  5. Ned Wright

    Ned Wright New Member

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    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: Thats a good one!

    There is one silver lining. If you get your permits in and the zoning laws stick you will truly have a property out in the sticks forever. I don't know how many times I have read about about the guy who builds in the sticks only to have the burbs catch up within a few years. Sure he can sell and build further out, but if you have a nice place, who wants to.

    I am a long ways from retirement and from the writting I see on the wall the only thing left for me and my generation will be high rise condos in the middle of the megaopolis between Portland and Vancouver BC.:beathead:

    Who knows if there will be any anadromous fish left:(

    Ned
     
  6. gt

    gt Active Member

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    sounds to me as if you need a very sharp legal mind involved right about now. since this review was already underway before you purchased this acerage with the intent to subdivide, i would want to inquire as to just what motivation the seller might have had. i would assume that none of this was disclosed before you closed. i would also want to know exactly what the title company knew about the time your paper work was making its way through the maze.

    lots of luck. at the end of the day, you may just have a beautiful chunk of ground all to yourself, not too bad an outcome.

    at the same time, i have to be honest and point out that folks like you that have been dumped on are in the minority. just as the little old lady in oregon became the poster person, she is not the one raking in the cash. the intent of the initative sponsered by the farm bureau is not in your name or for your protection. it all comes down to chopping apart tens of thousands of acres of farm land in order to promote urban sprawl and the earning of big bucks by a very limited few people/corporations.
     
  7. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

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    For those interested, here's the text of I-933 as filed by the Washington Farm Bureau. http://www.propertyfairness.com/text/i933.pdf

    Draw your own conclusions. Mine are that if this gets on the ballot and is approved by the voters, you can kiss goodbye any new land use regulations that don't demonstrably increase the value of land (i.e., I assume no one will have any right to complain if the local government rezones their property for a more commercially valuable use). And there's no doubt in my mind that is what the proponents are really after, but I may be too cynical on that point.

    FT, I don't want to split hairs with you regarding your hypothetical in response to my first post, but I do not think that is necessarily a "taking" under current constitutional jurisprudence. It probably feels like your property has been "taken" without "just compensation" in that hypothetical, but I don't think the courts have construed the federal or state takings clauses that liberally. I'm not trying to defend how the courts have construed the takings clauses, just suggesting it isn't as "obvious" as you suggest.

    Riverrun, I am sorry to hear about your ordeal. You would certainly be a sympathetic "poster boy" for the I-933 initiative. I hope there is a solution to your specific problem that works out. I would like to believe that there is a broader solution that could address situations like yours that aren't as drastic as I-933. If you don't like the advice you are getting from your attorney and want a second opinion, PM me; I know a few lawyers and could probably track down a referral to a hot shot land use lawyer.
     
  8. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

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    I don't think that you are going to like my answer to all of this, and you do sincerely have my sympathies. I truely am not trying to be a dick, but to provide some talk as the devils advocate.

    1) When the purchase went through, there was no guarantee to getting any kind of monetary return for the property. It's *always* a gamble to invest in any way shape or form, and in this case it sounds like things aren't going your way :(

    2) As a purchaser of that amount of land it is totally your responsiblity to keep up with legislation that can and will affect you. It's tedious, time consuming and hard, but it's the way things go. From personal experience I've had to deal with similar things on a smaller scale in the city of Tacoma.

    3) Realize that the land still have value even though zoning doesn't allow you to improve on it. It may be less in the short term, but in the long term who knows? Greenspace is becoming less and less common, and at the rate we are cutting things down, privately owned greenspaces will probably soar in prices, as the rich folks want to own a piece of "the country"

    4) Benefit is difficult to define here, but basically the zoning changed as part of the political will of voters in the county. Is that fair? Maybe not, but it is the will of the people so to speak. The general consensus was that greenspace was being consumed at a rate that was detremental to the health of the county, and the lifestyle that it affords. If you really want to change things, you'll have to become politically active.

    Personally I think you getting trampled stinks. IMO, it's all due to a knee jerk reaction fighting what was a scale balanced too far in favor of sprawl. But I've seen a lot of cases in Thurston county were greedy people sway local governments to change zoning for short term benefits. If you want to see this in action, take a look at the gross kinds of growth occuring in Yelm at this point. Hopefully some reasonable purchase or compensation can occur to help you out, but who knows? :confused: :confused:

    -- Cheers
    -- James
     
  9. Tom O'Riley

    Tom O'Riley Member

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    Just a thought But as a farmer and a long time native fish supporter just remember that most of us are better stuards of the land than the urban dwellers who don't know what they are appling to there lawns and don't care anyway.We care for the land because its our life. Good streamside maitanece is just good buisness for most of us. But attitude is everything and the Farm rebellion agaist unfair Govement takings is just getting started so I propose that we stop shouting at each other and work together for a common good ie the fisheries.
     
  10. gt

    gt Active Member

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    no one is shouting at you tom. in fact my friends in oregon tell me some of the biggest opponents of their measure 37 were small family farm owners, not the corporate farms. what has happened to these small family farms is not a pretty picture.

    keep up your concern for our planet, i certainly appreciate any and everything you can do to insure a liveable planet for my and your grandchildren.
     
  11. Sisu

    Sisu Banned or Parked

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    This is so true...I watch my neighbors pour shit on their plants, lawn, etc. all spring, summer, fall plus the lawn care trucks arrive and spray their poison every where all spring, summer and fall too. This has always pissed me off. My grandfather taught me to use cow shit, aged chicken shit, fish parts (bury them deep or the cats and bears arrive) for good flower and plant yield. He also had home treatments for bugs that used vinegar, cinnamon, ground pepper, having lots of bird houses around the yard as well as a few bat houses, plus he would collect lady bugs and bring them home for his garden, it was not the in thing back then to buy bugs for you garden.iagree
     
  12. Tom O'Riley

    Tom O'Riley Member

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    Shouting was just a figure of speech, what i was getting to is that most farms whould like to do more to protect the land and stream side areas but just can't aford it so a efort to know were they are coming from is very important and then we might get to help them and guide the proccess for example the Owens river projects of Cal Trout. Were the fishing groups prvided and installed fencing to controll cattle for the rancher and improved both sides of the fence so to speak
     
  13. FT

    FT Active Member

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    The example Riverun gave about something is happening right now up here in Skagit County is also exactly what I was talking about in my prior posts on this topic. When Riverun bought his land, it was legal to build one house on 20 acres of land, and there was no requirement that a house be built withing 200' of an existing road. Now the government is going to change the rules and only a allow a house on 20 acres within 200' of an existing road (note this is a public road, not a forest road). And if he gets all of his building permits, septic permit, well permit, well drilled, building plan approved by this July, which as he pointed out is going to be very difficult, he will be able to build one house.

    Remember, when he bought the property, he was allowed to build 8 houses on this land he purchased. Like I sais previously, I see this as a governmental taking of his property by government regulation, and that of dubious "public interest" value.

    o mykiss,

    Although you are correct about the courts not seeing zoning changes as coming under the "takings clause" of the Amendments to the Constitution (and it is not the 13th or 14th Amendments for those of you who don't know, it is within the Bill of Rights, or first 10 Amendments the takings clause is found), I still think it is a form of taking private property. I also suspect that we are going to see more and more of these types of iniatives in our various states as an attempt by those adversely affected (like Riverun) to put an end to takings by regulation. I also predict this takings by regulations issue is going to go back into the federal court system and be heard by the Supreme Court in the next 10 years or so.
     
  14. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    Ok, here's the deal. The problem with the government, and it will always be a problem no matter who is in power is that its not flexible. This is the nature of a beauracracy. Now, I am firmly against the Property Rights Initiative, because largely I think it will be used agaisnt reasonable zoning in Rural king county, with cases mostly built around speculated value, eg, if the zoning was different I could build 5 houses, or if that pesky wetland wasnt there I could have a horse barn and fill it with crap. I think the government should compensate/make exceptions for people who are unable to use their property at all because of changes in Zoning policy.
    I'm glad this thread has generated so much interest, its rare to see people articulating real political opinions in this country.
    Will
     
  15. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

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    I guess this is where I tend to disagree. Purchasing land is an investment, and provides not guarantee of return. Specifically, a change in zoning isn't the goverment taking the land, but rather changing what you can do with it. It's still your land, but the legal use of it has changed by definition to something else. Since the specific land was not developed before the zoning change, the owner of that land must comply.

    While I don't like the repercussions of this, the onus is on the land owner to understand and follow the course of regulatory changes that can and will affect the use of their land.


    -- Cheers
    -- James

    PS FT, you mention that this is a particular for of taking land. Could you provide some of the logic you use to arrive at this conclusion, as honestly, I'm not sure how to think about this problem from your perspective, and would like to understand this issue from other viewpoints!