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Land Use

What is a Conservation Easement?

A conservation easement is an interest in land, created between a landowner and a qualified easement holder, that restricts the uses and activities that may take place on the property in order to protect the conservation values of the property.  For instance, if the conservation value of the property is agricultural land, a conservation easement would restrict uses and activities which would be contrary to using the land for productive agricultural uses. 

Conservation easements can be useful to protect or preserve forests, wetlands,… Continue reading

Robert Carmichael and Simi Jain to Speak at “SEPA: State Environmenal Policy Act” Seminar

Interested in learning about the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)? Join our attorneys Robert Carmichael and Simi Jain at the upcoming seminar in Seattle, WA, on June 19, 2013, entitled, “SEPA: State Environmental Policy Act.”  Robert Carmichael will discuss navigating SEPA in local permitting.  Simi Jain will discuss reliance on local SEPA threshold determinations for obtaining State permit approval.  Other topics to be discussed include: update on recent decisions and legislation, drafting an environmental review document, and integrating SEPA with other statutes… Continue reading

The Vested Rights Doctrine

On review before the Washington State Court of Appeals, Div. 1, is, Mangat v. Snohomish County.  In this case, the court will decide whether the right to a vested land use application is a personal right and not one that runs with the land until the permit is issued on the land use application.  If the court decides that the vested land use application is a personal right, it will significantly affect the customary approach to vested land use applications in Washington.… Continue reading

LUPA’s Filing and Service Requirements are No Joke

LUPA is the “land use petition act”, which is the short title for the statute (RCW 36.70C) which governs judicial review of land use decisions.  In 1995, the Washington State Legislature adopted LUPA to provide direct judicial review of land use decisions.  Before LUPA, people affected by a land use decision had to file a writ of certiorari.  The procedural pitfalls for proper filing of a writ resulted in dismissal of many writs.  Another complication with writs was figuring out what… Continue reading

Can I Harvest Rainwater?

State law defines water resources as “all water above, upon, or beneath the surface of the earth, located within the state.” (RCW 43.27A.020).  Rainwater harvesting is not specifically regulated by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology).  Ecology does have a policy which indicates that beneficial use of rainwater does not require a water right.  However this policy also indicates that local restrictions may be set to govern new rainwater collection systems.  Under the policy it is understood that Ecology will step… Continue reading

Illegally Created Lots of Record

Generally, a parcel of land is considered an illegally created lot when there is a sale, lease or transfer of land in violation of the state subdivision requirements.  Owning an illegally created lot can lead to road blocks when it is time to develop the property.  In certain jurisdictions building permits and other development permits may not be issued for an illegally created lot.  However, an owner may acquire permits if they can demonstrate that they were an “innocent purchaser without actual… Continue reading

Mediation of Land Use Disputes at the Local Level

In my land use legal practice here in Whatcom County, it is rare that alternative dispute resolution is utilized at the local level.  The last couple of land use legal seminars that I’ve attended included lecture on mediation as a cost effective approach for settlement of land use disputes.  As with any legal dispute, mediation can be frustrating and ultimately a waste of time depending upon your opposition.  However, I’ve learned that there are examples of local land use disputes where mediation… Continue reading