voices concerns at GMA hearing
off: Land division and road upgrades among issues addressed at
By Brian Mittge
||Brian Mittge / The
Nearly 200 citizens wait for the start of a Growth
Management Act public hearing Thursday night in the jammed
Newaukum Grange Hall.
Lewis County, WA - 2/4/02 - Brian Greene has helped drill wells for
plenty of Seattle retirees settling on 10- or 20-acre parcels in
rural Lewis County, but the 25-year-old Chehalin worries he will
never be able to afford to do the same.
"Most of the people who own large acreage have lived there a
long time or inherited it," he said. "Most people my age
aren't going to be able to afford 20 acres."
Greene was one of nearly 200 citizens who crowded the Newaukum
Grange Hall Thursday night to sound off on growth management. He
shared the podium with dozens of speakers, most of whom were two or
three times his age.
Most who spoke asked that their land be rezoned one home per 5
acres, allowing them to squeeze more homesites on parcels throughout
Max Vogt of the Lewis County Association of Realtors said requiring
large parcels of land for development reduces the pool of buyers to
This has the ironic effect of making lots too expensive for most
buyers and at the same time preventing sellers from making as much
money as they otherwise could by splitting into more parcels, Vogt
Under proposed development regulations, many county areas are zoned
one home per 10 acres, with others set at one per 5, one per 20 and
up through 1 home per 80 acres in forest, agriculture and mineral
Only a handful of the more than 40 speakers had anything but harsh
criticism for the Growth Management Act.
"I think it's only right," said David Schaefer of Winlock,
who wants to divide land for his eight children. "You live on a
property for 73 years, you should be able to use it as you
The planning commission is already sympathetic to the landowning
crowd. The public hearings are geared toward the state board that in
March will decide whether this will finally be the Lewis County plan
that "no longer significantly interferes with the goals of the
All the public hearings are carefully audio- and videotaped. Citizen
comments will act as a paper trail to help the county prove its
Chehalis real estate agent Greg Lund urged the county to hold fast
to its original plan of one home per 5 acres unless steep slopes or
wetlands required lower densities.
A similar plan was clearly rejected by the hearings board in its
Without development, Lund said, "the only growth industry
you're going to have is meth."
Joe and Sona Markholt of Mossyrock said the development moratorium,
declared by the county 18 months ago because its development plans
were deemed invalid, has choked their business, Salmon Creek Meats.
They are also concerned their business might be forced to close
because it did not exist in 1993, the county's cutoff date to begin
planning under GMA.
Gary Zandell of Onalaska, also Lewis County auditor, said densities
of one home per 2&Mac221; acres would be reasonable.
He, and others, also argued against the newly-created Agriculture
and Forest Protection District, which allows some farmland to be
developed intensively if the other 85 percent of the property is
left largely open.
Others said farmers should be able to opt in and out of the AFPD
Nathan Brown said landowners should be able to build a
"mother-in-law" building next to another house. Requiring
a temporary home to be "thrown away" after several years
is a waste of resources, he said.
He suggested a revolt against state control, even if it means giving
up state funding as well.
"We're resilient people. Let's go govern ourselves," he
said. "I think we have the ability."
Klaus resident Sherwood "S.C." Schantz said the GMA is
just one of many unconstitutional laws that infringe on property
rights -- and like any other theft, should be resisted with force,
The planning commission was especially stone-faced during his talk,
refusing to answer his rhetorical questions.
Mike McDonald of Winlock encouraged the county to take its time
rather than turning in a plan that would do the county harm in the
John Penberth of Pe Ell, a member of the citizens group who crafted
the current plan last year, urged the county to simply follow the
hearings board's decision.
"This could have been resolved within a couple of weeks,"
Ron Averill, another member of last year's citizens group, noted
that many small parcels are grandfathered in, providing a place for
young people to put a home.
As far as people's disgust for development restrictions is
concerned, Averill said, "whether we like GMA or not, we still
have to deal with the fact that it's there."
Pat Underhill, also a former CAC member, noted that the soft real
estate market in Lewis County probably wouldn't support all the land
people seem to want to subdivide.
"Based on all the people who want to develop their land,
there's a line 10 miles long of people wanting to buy in the
county," he said.
He also suggested using 1950 or 1900 maps of the county, with dozens
of now-disappeared logging towns, as maps for development.
Thursday's meeting was the last public hearing by the planning
commission, but the group will continue to meet on Tuesdays and
Thursdays during the next few weeks to hash out its recommendations.
The county commission will then hold two public hearings before
making its own changes. The county's final plan is scheduled to go
to the hearings board on March 15.
There's more than a little sense of urgency to the county's desire
to wrap up its 10 years of adventures with the GMA.
A June 2000 ruling by the Western Washington Growth Management
Hearings Board ruled against the county's plan for rural
development, saying it didn't do enough to prevent sprawl, protect
rural character or guarantee a variety of rural densities, and that
the process didn't include enough public participation.
The county's original plans were appealed by a group of citizens --
the petitioners -- who said the plan didn't do enough to channel
growth to incorporated cities, and to ensure adequate transportation
Several of the petitioners were in attendance at the meeting.
Tammy Baker and Dan Smith of Chehalis said the plan ignored critical
areas, including floodplains.
"With our flooding record, there is one family wage job
available," Smith said. "Maybe we could get a Coast Guard
Cinebar resident Doug Hayden read at length from a seven-page
written statement claiming the county's plans would not require new
development to pay for necessary improvements to roads, as required
by the GMA.
Rather than analyzing specific intersections or stretches of road
that have the most problems during rush hour, the county analyzes
entire corridors over a long period of time, Hayden said.
"No development is going to have to start paying for its
impacts on the road system until far in the future," he said.
"How many people will be killed because of roadway condition(s)
that go unattended either through lack of funding or a desire to
pretend that everything is fine?"
The county's transportation analyst, Perry Shea of Lacey, said the
"corridor average" is a standard system used throughout
the Puget Sound region.
Greene, the 25-year-old, wants to buy land in Adna near his in-laws,
but most of the property there is zoned one home per 20 acres.
"You should be able to pick where you want to live, not move
because that's where the lots are," he said.
"A lot of the people here are trying to protect what they
have," he said. "But what about the people who don't have
Brian Mittge covers local government for The Chronicle. He may be
reached by e-mail at email@example.com,
or by telephoning 807-8237.