areas code battle seen as continuing
by Dan Ross, Sequim Gazette Staff
Clallam County, WA - 9/13/01 -
I-695, passed by state voters, overturned in the courts.
I-722, passed by state voters,
overturned in the courts.
I-6 in Clallam County, stalled in
the courts before going to the voters.
Legal challenges continue to the
validity of Initiative 6, a repeal of the county's critical areas
code, and it appears they are going to continue until time to print
Court hearings on the validity of
I-6 are scheduled for Sept. 18 and an appeal date is set for Sept. 21,
the last day items can be placed on the Clallam County ballots. A
court commissioner's ruling last week means I-6 is still not approved
for the November ballot.
Bob Forde, of Sequim, organized a
petition signature drive earlier this year and garnered enough valid
signatures to qualify I-6 for the November ballot, or so he thought.
Clallam County Commissioners
Steve Tharinger, D-Dungeness, and Mike Doherty, D-Port Angeles, voted
last month to obtain a court opinion on the validity of I-6, rather
than approving it for addition to the ballot.
Forde asked Court Commissioner
William Knebes last Friday to dismiss the county's case and order I-6
onto the November ballot.
"All we are asking is this
properly be before the court," said Forde, claiming the county
did not follow proper procedures to question the validity of I-6.
"The county is not arguing
the people's right to the initiative process," said county
land-use attorney Lauren Erickson, "only that it is
Knebes ruled there was no basis
for dismissing the county's motion.
"I think it is actual, not a
speculative disagreement," said Knebes.
The county's argument is no
referendum or initiative can cause a county to remove an ordinance
required by a state law.
Washington counties are required
under the Growth Management Act to highlight the critical areas of the
county and develop regulations to protect those areas. Critical areas
are described as wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat conservation
areas, geologically hazardous areas, frequently flooded areas and
critical aquifer-recharge areas. County officials claim over one-half
of all property in the county falls into one or more of the critical
When Knebes ruled Forde's motion
to dismiss failed, he also allowed local and state groups to intervene
in the case to place I-6 on the ballot.
Protect the Peninsula's Future,
1000 Friends of Washington and the Builders Industry Association of
Washington all were allowed in by Knebes.
The first two groups,
environmental rights groups, argue in Clallam County and statewide for
more stringent critical areas code rules. The builders' association
joined with Forde to provide legal support for his repeal attempts.
Forde said his eventual goal is to use repealing the county code as a
stepping stone to having the state's Growth Management Act tossed out
through a statewide initiative.
Gerald Steele, attorney for both
environental groups, told Knebes he believes enhanced public
participation is a benefit to all parties. The initiative process,
however, does not provide that participation since it only allows
people to say yes or no on a subject.
Knebes said he believed the court
could benefit from hearing information from all parties in coming to a
decision on placing I-6 on the ballot.
"I would rather have more
information for the court rather than less," said Knebes
Eloise Kailin, of Protect the
Peninsula's Future, chuckled aloud when Forde argued against allowing
her group into the case but argued for allowing himself the aid of the
"We would accept any help on
this side of the table up to a manual typewriter and crayons,"
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