Supreme Court refuses to hear Columbia Gorge dispute
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) 4/4/02 - - The U.S. Supreme Court has
refused to hear a case
the Columbia River Gorge Commission said would clarify how much
it has to enforce uniform land-use rules on both sides of the national
scenic area that forms part of the Oregon-Washington border.
The high court this week rejected the commission's appeal of a
state court ruling that state land-use regulations apply in the federal
The 1995 case began when Scott Andersen, the owner of a small trailer
in Skamania County, Wash., asked the county for permission to expand.
The county approved, but a neighbor, Chris Woodall, appealed to the
commission, arguing that federal scenic area rules trumped Washington
The gorge commission agreed with Woodall and overturned Skamania County,
saying that Andersen had ``discontinued'' the permitted land use by
Skamania County appealed the case through the Washington state court
and won. An appeals court found that the term ``discontinued'' in
scenic-area rule was ambiguous, requiring the commission to apply
Washington state law to decide whether Andersen's trailer park permit
The Washington Supreme Court declined in October to review the appeals
Martha Bennett, the commission's executive director, said the U.S.
Court refusal to hear the case could lead to problems enforcing scenic
``The commission sought review of the case because it was concerned
the unfairness of the Court of Appeals decision on the gorge as a
She said enforcement now depends on how Oregon and Washington state
interpret the Washington ruling in future land-use disputes within the
``I know there are several questions out there that might test this,''
Bennett said, including whether county property owners in Clark County,
Wash., are bound by scenic setback and buffer rules that clash with
laws and might make some properties impossible to develop.
Skamania County Prosecutor Brad Anderson, who argued the case before the
Washington state appeals court, said the Supreme Court refusal to hear
case simply confirmed a ``common-sense approach'' to governing the
``The precedent this case sets is that the gorge commission and the
must at least give some consideration to Oregon and Washington case
Former U.S. senators Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon and Daniel
J. Evans of
Washington, who helped draft the scenic-area legislation, backed the
to persuade the Supreme Court to hear the case, which the gorge
argued defied the intent of Congress to protect the beauty of the gorge.
The state of Oregon and the Delaware River Port Authority, which like
gorge commission operates under a bistate compact, filed briefs in
of the gorge commission's petition for Supreme Court review.