Initiative 6  submitted for Washington State Supreme Court review

by Sue Forde

Clallam County, WA - Dec. 7, 2001 - Since the refusal of the local courts to allow Initiative 6 - Repeal of the Critical Areas Code of Clallam County -  to be placed on the ballot for the voters' decision, as set out in the county Home Rule Charter (county constitution), Bob Forde, the citizen sued by Clallam County, and Tim Ford, attorney for  the BIAW [Building Industry Association of Washington] have been busy.

In October, they submitted statements to the state Supreme Court as to why the court should hear the case, and asking it to be placed on the "fast track."  Clallam County's attorney has submitted statements that it does not believe the court should hear the case, as it has already been decided in previous decisions.

Protect the Peninsula's Future (PPF), headed by Eloise Kailin, wants to be heard at the state level, as does 1000 Friends of Washington, the Seattle-based environmental group who had joined with PPF in the earlier case.

Briefs are due to be filed this month, after which time the justices will review them and decide whether or not to hear the oral arguments in the case.

Sufficient qualified signatures were gathered this year to place Initiative 6 on the ballot in Clallam County for the voters to decide upon; however, County Commissioner Steve Tharinger (D) and Commissioner Mike Doherty (D) refused to allow the vote, instead turning it over to the court to decide whether the matter could be heard.  One lone commissioner, Mike Chapman (R) insisted that the law be followed, with a hearing date set and then the issue to be placed on the ballot.  He was overruled, 2-1 in a vote.  

The county won at the local level.

At issue is whether the voters of Clallam County - or any county - can exercise their initiative rights on any matter concerning the Growth Management Act (GMA).  Two previous cases were heard by the Supreme Court, both regarding referendums covering the same topic, and the voters lost.  It is the hope that the Court will review this new case in light of newly presented arguments.

Should the Court hear the case, and the initiative process be upheld, Initiative 6 will go on the ballot in 2002.

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