Growth management laws stir contention2002-04-04
by Dean A. Radford
South County Journal Reporter
COVINGTON, WA -- Property owner Jack Clark has sued the city, claiming the state's growth management laws were violated when the Covington City Council replaced the city's land-use map with an older one.
The action was filed this week with the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board. The board is no stranger to the contentiousness that resulted as the city developed its land-use laws and adopted its first comprehensive plan.
Earlier this year, the City Council changed land-use maps to speed resolution of an appeal by Wildlife Habitat Injustice Prevention (WHIP), a citizen activist group. City Attorney Duncan Wilson said the city and WHIP followed a process suggested by the hearings board.
Now, Clark says the city was wrong to do that.
``We are alleging the city illegally entered into an agreement with WHIP, to the detriment of property owners,'' said Clark, who has a contract to buy 20 acres of land behind Covington Elementary School.
``We disagree with all of his allegations,'' Wilson said.
WHIP favored the older land-use map, in part because the 20 acres behind the school reverted to downtown commercial. Under the newer map, the land was zoned regional commercial, which allows for warehouse-type stores.
``This city is going to bring on lawsuit after lawsuit until they learn that politically motivated land decisions that violate landowners' rights are not going to be tolerated,'' Clark said.
Clark wants the regional hearings board to decide whether Covington followed all laws that apply to amending a comprehensive plan, including public participation requirements.
The city's position, Wilson said, is that there are ``certain landowners who are using the court system to develop their property by use of lawsuits and circumventing legitimate legislative decisions made by the City Council.''
The WHIP appeal is on hold while the group decides if it is satisfied with the city's efforts ``to rectify problems it perceived in the comprehensive plan,'' Wilson said.
This is the second lawsuit that Clark has filed against the city this year. In February, he challenged an emergency moratorium that prevents him from dividing up the 20 acres.
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