Peninsula: Board invalidates Washington's controversial shoreline rule

OLYMPIA — An independent hearing board has scrapped Washington state's controversial new shoreline rules, heeding complaints from disgruntled property owners and setting the stage for a court battle over how far government can go to protect the environment.

Jefferson County was among parties challenging the shoreline rules.

The rules took effect in November, replacing less stringent guidelines written 30 years ago. With limits on everything from house and dock building to industrial development, they aimed to reduce erosion, flooding and pollution.

Now they're on hold.

The decision is not expected to immediately affect a lawsuit over the Clallam County Critical Areas Ordinance.

That ordinance, which also governs streamside development, is required under the state Growth Management Act, not the state Shorelines Management Act.

It is currently the subject of legal action ordered by Clallam County commissioners against property rights activist Bob Forde, whose citizens initiative generated enough signatures for a countywide vote on repealing the ordinance.

The ordinance establishes buffers near wetlands, streams and in slide areas.

Forde's petition calls for repealing the ordinance.

County commissioners have sued Ford in an effort to keep the measure off the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

Commissioner Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, denies that the intent of the lawsuit is to block a vote on the measure.

Tharinger said Tuesday that the lawsuit simply seeks a judge's ruling on whether the ballot petition is legal.

This full report appears in today's Peninsula News, on sale throughout Clallam and Jefferson counties. Click onto “Subscribe” to order your PDN delivered to your home or office.

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