Property owners question rules on GMA
Feb 27 2002 12:00AM  By Andy Porter of the Union-Bulletin


Official says he wishes the county had never agreed to participate in the Growth Management Act.

If Walla Walla County Commissioner Dave Carey could go back 12 years and change his vote, this week's public hearings on proposed development regulations might never have happened.

The hearings held Monday and Tuesday to obtain comment on regulations intended to enforce comprehensive planning under the state Growth Management Act generated more questions than comment.

``I have to apologize to you for what I've done,'' Carey said.

``It just tears my heart'' when people come before the commission and are told they cannot manage their land as they see fit under the new laws, he told six landowners who attended Tuesday's session.

About 15 people Monday expressed confusion and dismay about how the proposed regulations would affect their property rights.

Carey in 1990 was one of the commissioners who voted 2-1 to participate in Growth Management Act planning. In exchange, the state paid the county $75,000 a year to conduct planning and enact guidelines.

Ten of the state's 39 counties opted not to fully conduct planning under the act, according to the Office of Community Development.

Development regulations Walla Walla commissioners were considering this week would apply to a land use plan adopted in May. The plan outlines management objectives for development in all unincorporated parts of the county through 2021.

The regulations will replace interim rules commissioners adopted early last year.

``I just have a tough time figuring out why we have had this land for nine decades and can't do what we want with it,'' Dick Kelly, a Frog Hollow Road resident who wants to place a house on his land for a family member, told the commissioners.

He and others questioned the ``clustering provisions'' for houses in primary agriculture areas zoned for 40-acre minimum lot sizes.

The provisions allow up to three residences to be clustered together on a small adjacent lots while one house is allowed on the remaining acreage.

Under previous regulations, houses had to be situated on 10-acre minimum parcels.

``On this clustering, what are you trying to avoid?'' asked Tom Strycula, a Burbank resident.

``Under growth management, the aim is to protect agricultural lands,'' said Connie Krueger, regional planning director.

Other questions involved how zoning changes will be accomplished under the new regulations and the county's comprehensive plan.

Krueger said that with growth management there is now ``much more bureaucracy'' involved with zone changes.

Commissioners are expected to vote on whether to enact the development regulations when they hold their regular meetings next week, said Commission Chairwoman Pam Ray.

It is uncertain whether commissioners will vote on the rules at their regular Monday or Tuesday meeting, she said.


The Walla Walla County commissioners at meetings Monday and Tuesday approved:

Authorizing the commission chairperson to sign reimbursable agreements with the Department of Transportation, Port of Walla Walla and developers of a proposed natural gas-fired energy plant near Wallula for a transportation study of access roads and interchanges in the area.

A March 25 date to hold two public hearings to consider vacating part of a county right-of-way and establishing another on Chamberlain Road southwest of College Place.

Holding a public hearing at 10 a.m. March 11 to consider revising the residential outdoor burn permit fee schedule.

Reappointing Juan Pedroza of Walla Walla to another 5-year term on the Walla Walla Housing Authority Board of Directors.

Contract extensions with five local attorneys to provide legal representation for indigent criminal defendants.

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